AP

Teenage driver charged in crash of stolen car that killed 4

Nov 22, 2022, 2:17 PM | Updated: 2:25 pm

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — 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.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

8 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

9 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

10 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

11 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Teenage driver charged in crash of stolen car that killed 4