5 Children, Ages 8 to 17, Killed in Car Crash on N.Y. Highway, 9-Year-Old Survives
Five children aged between 8 and 17 were killed in a fiery crash after the SUV they were traveling in veered off a New York highway and into a tree on Sunday morning, police said.
A statement from Westchester County Police said a 16-year-old boy was believed to be driving the Nissan Rogue when it crashed on the Hutchinson River Parkway in Scarsdale about 12:20 a.m. local time. The SUV caught fire after it hit a tree and no other vehicles were involved.
The sole survivor was a boy, 9, who was apparently riding in the hatchback area and managed to escape through the rear of the vehicle. The boy was taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla with non-life-threatening injuries.
Malik Smith, the 16-year-old driver, and passengers Anthony Billips Jr., 17, Zahnyiah Cross, Shawnell Cross, 11, and 8-year-old Andrew Billips died in the crash, authorities said, according to ABC 7.
"They wasn't cousins, they were more brothers. Brothers and sisters, that's how close they are," the driver's father, whose name is also Malik Smith, told CBS 2.
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"That's his thing. He goes to the mall. He goes to get his ice cream with his cousin. They go to the movies. They walk around the mall. They do what teenagers and kids do, you know. So that's, it's just, I didn't know he was driving by himself," Smith said in a phone interview with the outlet
Smith also said his son did not have a permit to drive. Asked whether Smith knew his son was driving in general, he told CBS 2: "Yeah, I was. And I told him, his mother told him, his older brothers told him, stop driving without a license, without a permit. Anything happens, you get pulled over, you get in trouble for these things. Stop doing this."
Authorities confirmed during a press conference on Monday that the driver did not have a license or a permit, according to ABC 7.
Matt Conway, the superintendent of schools in Derby, Conn., initially told the Associated Press the children were part of the same family, and he had reached out to the father to offer support.
"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."
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A family member also confirmed to Hearst Connecticut Media Group that the children were all related, though didn't comment further.
State Representative Kara Rochelle shared a GoFundMe page set up for the family, adding "You are all in my heart, in all of our hearts."
A police statement said the crash remains under investigation and detectives from the General Investigations Unit were working together with the Westchester County Police Accident Investigation Team.