Getting Answers: legality of fatal Scarsdale accident that killed 5 children
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Five children from Connecticut, including two sets of siblings, were killed in a car crash this past weekend in New York, leaving a sixth child as the only survivor.
The driver who died in that crash has been identified as a 16-year-old boy from Connecticut, who was driving without a license or permit. Western Mass News is getting answers from one local attorney on the legality for this type of case.
A deadly car crash in Scarsdale, New York over the weekend claimed the lives of five children from Derby, Connecticut. All were under the age of 17 and included two sets of siblings.
Investigators said that the driver, 16-year-old Malik Smith, did not have his driver’s license or learner’s permit and veered into a tree while traveling on the Hutchinson River Parkway around 12:20 a.m. Sunday morning. The car then set fire, and five of the six occupants then perished.
“What evidence on the scene indicates, but is subject to final investigation assessment, is that the operator was either distracted or fell asleep,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
A sixth child, 9-year-old Abraham Billips, was in the trunk and survived. Investigators spoke during a news conference Monday as they worked to put the pieces together on the circumstances of the accident.
“The investigation is trying to determine if the occupants of the vehicle, those that perished, were wearing seatbelts or not,” Latimer said. “It was not easily found at the moment of investigation because of the fire that consumed the vehicle.”
Investigators said that the car was a 2021 Nissan Rogue that was rented by a relative.
Western Mass News is getting answers from a local attorney on the legality for this type of case.
“Your motor vehicle insurance would cover you, as a parent, if a child that didn’t have a license took the car without your authority, and so, this happens many times,” Attorney Joseph Pacella told us. “The question of law would be, factually, did the parent have knowledge that the child took the car and let them take the car. If that was the case, the insurance company would say, ‘We’re not paying.’”
Pacella spoke about the legality of this case if the accident were to happen in Massachusetts. He told us that there would have to be strong evidence provided if a lawsuit was pursued by one of the parents of the victims.
“Is it possible that, with young adults, that there was texting going on in the car?” Pacella asked. “Sometimes, you find evidence that’s created that someone had recorded it, maybe a phone is found and something is downloaded. It’s possible.”
Meanwhile, investigators said that for now, they are just focusing on the investigation of facts for this case.
“There certainly could be criminal pursuit of some of the actions here,” Latimer said. “Certainly, could be civil pursuit and civil action that might follow this in one way shape or form or another. It’s too early to know that.”
It is unknown at this time where the kids were traveling from or driving to before the accident happened. Investigators said that more information will be released in the days ahead.
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