Driver in Horrific Crash That Killed 5 Kids Was 16, Had No License

Police say 16-year-old was behind wheel of Nissan Rogue that veered off New York highway, hit tree
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2023 6:40 AM CDT
Updated Mar 21, 2023 12:05 AM CDT
Cops: 16-Year-Old Was Driving in Crash That Killed 5 Kids
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Ajax9)
UPDATE Mar 21, 2023 12:05 AM CDT

Police say the 16-year-old boy who was driving when an SUV crashed in New York Sunday, killing five of the six children aboard, did not have his license or a driving permit. The children were all related, and the group included two sets of siblings, the AP reports. They've been identified as Malik Smith, the 16-year-old; Anthony Billips Jr., 17; Zahnyiah Cross, 12; Shawnell Cross, 11; and Andrew Billips, 8. The vehicle involved had been rented to a relative of the children, and police are investigating how the kids got access to it. Police say the driver may have fallen asleep or become distracted. As for the sole survivor of the crash, a 9-year-old, "He’s just seen five members of his family die. This has got to be an impossible situation for him as a young boy. So the kind of questions that you or I would want to ask him to know these things probably isn’t appropriate until things have been stabilized,” an official says. A GoFundMe has been launched.

Mar 20, 2023 6:40 AM CDT

Five children from Connecticut, ranging in age from 8 to 17, were killed in a fiery early-morning crash Sunday on a New York highway, police said. Police believe the vehicle was being driven by a 16-year-old boy when it veered off the Hutchinson River Parkway in Scarsdale, hit a tree, and caught fire, per the AP. A 9-year-old boy, the sixth person in the Nissan Rogue, was the only survivor, according to a statement provided by Kieran O'Leary, spokesperson for the Westchester County Police Department. The 9-year-old was "apparently riding in the rear hatchback/cargo area and escaped out the rear," according to the statement.

The boy was taken to the hospital with injuries that weren't life-threatening. The five who were killed include four males and a female. Their identities haven't yet been released. Police said they're all from Derby, Connecticut. Matt Conway, the superintendent of schools in Derby, about 50 miles north of Scarsdale, New York, said he learned the children were part of a family that recently moved to the New Haven County community from New York but hadn't enrolled in the district. Conway said he reached out to the father on Sunday and offered to provide him information about available supports in the community for him and his family. He planned to talk with the father again on Monday.

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"It's the unimaginable," Conway said. "Having to now make arrangements for five of your children to be buried is a very difficult thing for anyone—one child, never mind five that you're going to have to now make arrangements for." News 12 reports that a GoFundMe has been started for the family. Police said the vehicle crashed at about 12:20am and is under investigation. Per CTInsider, New York state law bars drivers under the age of 18 from having more than one passenger, unless they're in the same family or there's an adult over 21 in the car.

(More car crash stories.)

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