Teenage driver, 16, charged with manslaughter in Buffalo accident that killed 4
The 16-year-old driver who allegedly crashed a stolen SUV in Buffalo last month and killed four teenage passengers was charged with manslaughter on Tuesday, prosecutors said.
The teenager, who has not been identified by authorities, has been charged with four counts of second-degree manslaughter, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
The driver is accused of accelerating the stolen Kia so recklessly that the four people killed – and one other surviving passenger – were all thrown from the vehicle in the accident.
The apparent jaunt came after the Kia Sportage was allegedly stolen, which police say could be linked to a TikTok challenge encouraging people to break into Kia and Hyundai cars with phone chargers.
The so-called “Kia Challenge” shows TikTok users how to short-circuit the two types of cars with a USB cable and a screwdriver.
WGRZ-TV reported that the teenage driver was released without bail at his arraignment Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The teenager was reportedly released into the care of his grandmother and forced to wear an ankle monitor – against prosecutors’ objection.
“I still don’t think it’s right for this kid to play video games when there’s going to be an empty chair with four people at the Thanksgiving dinner table on Thanksgiving Thursday,” Erie County District Attorney John Flynn told reporters.
The gruesome accident happened around 6:45 a.m. on October 24, after the SUV was reported stolen earlier in the morning, prosecutors said. The SUV struck a concrete embankment at high speed and rolled backwards, Flynn said.
The victims were all friends of the driver, his defense attorney said in court.
A 17-year-old boy, a 16-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl were all pronounced dead at the scene, while a 19-year-old boy died in hospital. Another passenger, a 14-year-old girl, was taken to hospital with serious physical injuries but was later released.
Two of the families of the fatal victims filed a federal lawsuit against Kia Corp. and Kia America Inc., accusing them of negligence and creating a public nuisance. The lawsuit argues that Kia failed to install an anti-theft device in some of its vehicles, which would have made theft more difficult.
The teenage driver will appear at a pre-trial conference on November 28 where prosecutors will make a plea to take the case to adult court. He was treated for only minor injuries after the accident.
The driver also faces charges each of first-degree assault, second-degree assault and criminal possession of stolen property, Erie prosecutors said.
With mail wires
https://nypost.com/2022/11/22/teen-driver-hit-with-charges-for-buffalo-crash-that-killed-4/ Teenage driver, 16, charged with manslaughter in Buffalo accident that killed 4