The 16-year-old driver in a deadly crash in New York over the weekend that killed him and four other children did not have a license or permit and may have been asleep at the time of the accident.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said during a Monday press conference that the young driver, who was from Connecticut, “did not have a Connecticut nor a New York driver’s license or a permit” and that even if he did “he would not be able to drive legally at night” in the state of New York.
The driver was identified as 16-year-old Malik Smith, Latimer said, while Anthony Billips Jr., 17, Zahnyiah Cross, 12, Shawnell Cross, 11, and Andrew Billips, 8, were also identified as those killed in the crash.
Abraham Billips, 9, was able to escape the crash and was treated at a local hospital with what Latimer described as non-life threatening injuries.
The crash occurred overnight Sunday on the Hutchinson River Parkway, with Latimer saying the Nissan Rogue being driven by Smith veered off the road and hit a boulder and then ran into a tree before being engulfed in flames.
A police officer who was the first responder to the scene was unsuccessful in extinguishing the blaze with a fire extinguisher, Latimer said, noting that firefighters responding soon after were able to gain control of the blaze.
Abraham Billips, the 9-year-old survivor of the crash, was riding in a back cargo area of the SUV and was able to escape through a back broken window to safety. The other five passengers died of blunt force trauma as a result of impact with the boulder and tree, Latimer said.
The investigation into how Smith was able to gain access to the vehicle is still ongoing, while a toxicology report has been ordered to determine whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.
“There are no indications of damage on the vehicle that would have indicated there was a second vehicle involved. There’s also no corresponding tire marks that would have been made had the vehicle been struck or forced off the roadway by some other vehicle,” Latimer said. “The evidences at the scene indicates… that the operator was either distracted or fell asleep.”