Police: Fatal single-car crash in Harwich caused by racing

HARWICH, Mass. ( -- A car crash left one man dead in Harwich early Sunday morning.

Massachusetts State Police say 18-year-old Michael Lawrence, of Osterville, and 18-year-old Adrian Sterling, of Hyannis, were racing before the single-car crash that killed Lawrence.

At around 12:40 a.m., police responded to Route 6 eastbound, between Exits 9 and 10 in Harwich and found that a black BMW X5 SUV had rolled over and hit a tree on the right side of the highway. Lawrence was the car's only occupant and pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

"The tree had crushed the passenger compartment of the vehicle," said Harwich fire captain David LeBlanc.

Police issued a criminal complaint to Sterling, the driver of the second car.

Sterling was driving a white Toyota Camry Solara coupe and has been charged with reckless operation of a motor vehicle, speeding and racing a motor vehicle. Police did say Sterling stopped when Lawrence crashed and remained on scene with police.

Lawrence's family did not want to go on camera but said Sunday that they are devastated. They say the Barnstable High School graduate was a great kid who would drop everything to help his family.

Emergency responders say the stretch of Route 6 where the crash occurred is very dangerous and they've responded to a number of motor vehicle accidents there. But drag racing accidents are rare.

"All of the kids are really messed up about this," said Barbara Anderson, an acquaintance of Lawrence's. "I wish they would smarten up about this, but I don't know, this is crazy.""

Barnstable High School will have grief counselors available at the school starting at 6:30 a.m. Monday.

"We are saddened at the loss of former BHS student Michael Lawrence," a school statement read. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Massachusetts State Police are also looking for a third vehicle that was in the area at the time of the crash, though investigators do not think that car is related to the crash. Instead, they believe the driver may have witnessed the circumstances leading up to the crash.

Anyone who was driving on Route 6 at the time of the crash and may have seen the cars or the crash itself is asked to call the South Yarmouth state police barracks at 508-298-2323.

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