Boy, 16, who killed 5 children of a family in New York highway car crash had 'no license' and may have 'fallen asleep'
SCARSDALE, NEW YORK: Five children, all from the same family, died in a car accident early Sunday morning, March 19, in Westchester County, New York. The victims included three boys and two girls identified as Malik Smith, 16, Anthony Billips Jr, 17, Zahnyiah Cross, 12, Shawnell Cross, 11, and Andrew Billips, 8.
The SUV they were traveling in crashed into a boulder before hitting a tree after going straight through a curve on the highway, according to Westchester County executive George Latimer. Latimer said that the driver, 16-year-old Malik Smith, did not have a driver’s license or permit and may have fallen asleep or got distracted before the accident, as per an Associated Press report.
XXXTentacion murder trial: Three suspects found guilty of killing rapper in 2018
James Toliver Craig: Colorado dentist who wanted to start 'new life' with lover arrested for wife's murder
'The crash cost the lives of five young people'
“The crash cost the lives of five young people. That is a tragedy no matter what the details are,” Latimer said during a news conference. “It was a horrific accident site,” he added. The sole survivor was a nine-year-old boy who was riding in the 2021 Nissan Rogue and escaped out of a rear broken window with the help of a Westchester County police officer who was the first to arrive on the scene, according to Daily Mail.
'He’s just seen five members of his family die'
The boy, as per a report, was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening. “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,” said Latimer.
'The SUV had been rented to a relative'
The SUV had been rented to a relative and authorities are investigating how Smith had access to the vehicle. Westchester County's public safety commissioner Terrance Raynor, as per the report, said that the investigation is not “criminal in nature.” “As you can imagine, this family is very distraught over the incident and we have had some conversations. However, there’s a lot of follow-up conversations to be had with the family. So at this point, I can say that they’ve been cooperative with respect to the questions we’ve asked. However, there is a lot more to go into this investigation,” Raynor said.
The family was believed to have recently moved from New York to Connecticut and the children may have been driving from New Jersey to Derby, Connecticut, when the accident occurred, according to Latimer. Superintendent of schools in Derby, Matt Conway, said that the children were not enrolled in the district but reached out to the family on Sunday to offer information about available support in the community. The tragedy has shocked the community and the family's neighbors and friends have set up a GoFundMe page to support the surviving family member. As of Monday afternoon, the fundraiser had raised over $40,428 on Monday.