Teenage driver charged in crash of stolen car that killed 4

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A 16-year-old accused of driving a stolen SUV involved in a high-speed crash that killed four teenage passengers was arraigned Tuesday on manslaughter and other charges.

The parents of two of those killed, meanwhile, have filed a lawsuit against automaker Kia, claiming their children would be alive if its cars were harder to steal.

A total of six teens were in the Kia Sportage when it crashed on state Route 33 on Oct. 24, Buffalo police said. The car had been reported stolen the previous night.

The driver, apparently held in by an airbag and the steering wheel, was the only occupant not ejected through the sunroof when the vehicle struck a concrete embankment at high speed and flipped backwards, District Attorney John Flynn said. The driver was treated at a hospital and released. A 14-year-old girl also survived.

The driver, whose name was not released, pleaded not guilty in Erie County Court on Tuesday to charges of manslaughter, assault and possession of stolen property. He was released under supervision with an ankle monitor, according to Flynn, who said opposed the release.

Flynn told reporters the teen was charged as an adolescent but he would argue to keep the case in adult court at a hearing next week.

“I still don’t think it’s right that this kid is out playing video games when on Thursday at Thanksgiving, there’s going to be an empty chair of four individuals at the Thanksgiving dinner table,” he said.

The 16-year-old’s attorney said in court that those killed were close friends.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said after the crash that the teens may have been participating in a TikTok challenge encouraging people to break into and steal Kia cars using cellphone chargers.

The so-called Kia challenge showed how to hot-wire Kias and Hyundais with a USB cord and a screwdriver. Many police departments around the country have reported increases in Kia and Hyundai thefts since the video was posted last summer.

A federal lawsuit filed last week on behalf of the mothers of 15-year-old Kevn Payne Jr. and 17-year-old Swazine Swindle, who died in the Buffalo crash, seeks unspecified damages while accusing Kia Corp. and Kia America Inc. of negligence and creating a public nuisance. It alleges that Kia failed to include an anti-theft device on certain vehicles and did not recall the cars or warn the public when the issue became evident.

California attorney Jonathan Michaels, who represents the parents, said no one should be stealing cars but social media can have a powerful pull.

“This is something that, on a young brain that’s not fully developed, that temptation is just so strong,” Michaels, of MLG Attorneys at Law, said by phone, “and they’re not understanding the consequences of what they’re doing, and all their friends are doing it. So it’s foreseeable this is happening, and it’s a defect to begin with.”

An insurance industry group has said some Kias are stolen at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the auto industry because their keys lack computer chips for theft “immobilizer” systems.

Kia has since announced it would include an immobilizer for all vehicles starting with model year 2022.

A spokesman for the automaker said the company generally does not respond to pending litigation.

Source ABC

A tech blog author and superhero who writes about technology and its impact on society, business, and everyday life

Related Posts

Hawaii eruption brings tourism boon during slow season

The spectacle of glowing-hot lava spewing from Hawaii’s Mauna Loa has drawn thousands of visitors and is turning into a tourism boon for a Big Island town near the world’s largest volcano

Read more

Musk’s company aims to soon test brain implant in people

Tech billionaire Elon Musk said his Neuralink company is seeking permission to test its brain implant in people soon

Read more

Lava from Hawaii volcano slows its approach to key highway

An official says lava from the world’s largest volcano shouldn’t be able to reach the main highway across Hawaii’s Big Island for at least a week

Read more

Hawaii volcano’s lava oozes toward key Big Island highway

Experts say humans can do nothing to prevent the lava flowing from the world’s largest volcano from swallowing the main highway linking the east and west coasts of Hawaii’s Big Island

Read more

Ex-FTX CEO says he didn’t ‘knowingly’ misuse clients’ funds

The former CEO of the failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX says that he did not “knowingly” misuse customers’ funds

Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *