5 Connecticut children killed in fiery crash on Hutchinson River Parkway
NEW YORK - Five children from Connecticut, ranging in age from 8 to 17, were killed in a fiery crash on a New York highway, police said.
"This was a horrific accident, it was a horrific accident site," said Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
Police believe the vehicle was being driven Sunday by a 16-year-old boy when it veered off the Hutchinson River Parkway, just north of the Mamaroneck Road exit, around 12:20 a.m. in Scarsdale, struck a boulder, then a tree and caught fire.
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," the statement said. The boy was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
The victims, all from Connecticut, have been identified as Malik Smith, 16; Anthony Billips Jr., 17; Zahnyiah Cross, 12; Shawnell Cross, 11; and Andrew Billips, 8.
The driver, 16-year-old Malik, was unlicensed, driving at the 55mile per hour speed limit. Because there were no brake marks, investigators believe he was either distracted or asleep at the time of the crash, failing to turn with the curve of the parkway.
A toxicology report is still pending and investigators aren’t sure if the children were wearing seatbelts inside the rented car due to the severity of the flame
Matt Conway, the superintendent of schools in Derby, Connecticut, said he learned the children were part of a family that recently moved to the New Haven County community from New York, but had not enrolled in the district.
A 9-year-old boy was the only survivor of the crash, officials said. He was taken to a hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Conway said he reached out to the father and offered to provide him with information about available support in the community for him and his family. He planned to talk with the father again Monday.
"It’s the unimaginable. 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," Conway said.
The cause and circumstance of the incident remain under investigation by the Westchester County Police Accident Investigation Team and detectives from the General Investigations Unit.
No other vehicles were said to be involved in the crash at the time.
The Associated Press wire services helped contribute to this report.