16-year-old driver didn't have license in deadly Westchester County crash, officials say

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Monday, March 20, 2023
Teen driver didn't have license in deadly Scarsdale crash: Officials
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Westchester County officials have released the names of the five young people who were tragically killed in a car accident over the weekend. Anthony Carlo has the story.

SCARSDALE, Westchester County (WABC) -- Westchester County officials have released new details, including the names of the five young people tragically killed, regarding a fiery crash on the Hutchinson River Parkway over the weekend.

The family tells Eyewitness News that six siblings and cousins were heading to Derby, Connecticut from a mall when their 2021 Nissan Rogue veered off the parkway in Scarsdale just before 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

The car hit a boulder then a tree north of the Mamaroneck Road exit and burst into flames, officials said.

"The driver did not turn with the roadway, continued in a straight line... hit a boulder and then hit a tree head on," Westchester County Executive George Latimer said regarding an investigative reconstruction of the accident. "And the car was engulfed in flames at that point."

Authorities identified Malik Smith, 16, Anthony Billips Jr., 17, Zahnyiah Cross, 12, Shawnell Cross, 11, and Andrew Billips, 8, as victims in the crash.

A 9-year-old boy, the only survivor, was "apparently riding in the rear hatchback/cargo area and escaped out the rear," according to a statement provided by the Westchester County Police Department.

The boy was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

At a news conference on Monday, officials revealed the driver, 16-year-old Malik Smith, did not have a license or a permit.

It was unclear how he had access to the Nissan, which had been rented by a relative, Latimer said.

Investigators found no tire or skid marks on the road or grass, suggesting the driver was either distracted or fell asleep at the wheel.

Excessive speed is not believed to be a factor in the crash. Toxicology reports on the driver are pending, Latimer said.

"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," said Matt Conway, superintendent of schools in Derby, said Sunday.

Officials say the family had recently moved from New York City to Derby, Connecticut, where neighbors are now mourning this unimaginable loss.

"My first thought was just like, as a mom, like, heartbreaking for the parents," the victims' neighbor Gloria Taveras said.

Derby is roughly 50 miles (80 km) north of Scarsdale.

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