Latimer: 16-year-old driver may have fallen asleep in Scarsdale crash that killed 5
Investigators are probing the possibility that the 16-year-old driver in Sunday’s fatal and fiery single-vehicle crash fell asleep or was distracted before leaving the Hutchinson River Parkway.
Officials released the names Monday of the five young people killed in the crash that occurred around 12:20 a.m. between exits 12 and 13, north of the Mamaroneck Road exit.
They are Andrew Billips, 8, Shawnell Cross, 11, Zahnyiah Cross, 12, Malik Smith, 16, and Anthony Billips Jr., 17. Investigators say the family had recently moved to Derby, Connecticut, from the New York City area, roughly 50 miles north of where the crash occurred.
A 9-year-old boy, Abraham Billips, was the lone survivor. He was riding in the rear hatchback cargo area and was able to escape the burning car by crawling out the back of the vehicle. He suffered injuries not considered life-threatening.
In a news conference, Westchester County George Latimer said that Smith did not have a driver’s permit or license in either New York or Connecticut. He also said that Nissan Rogue SUV was a rental from a relative.
Latimer said there was no indication that the vehicle had slowed around a curve in the road before leaving the roadway, striking a boulder, then a tree and bursting into flames. He also said that speed was not a factor and an eyewitness said that he was traveling the limit (55 mph).
It is not clear if Smith or the passenger were wearing seat belts or exactly where they were coming from. Latimer said an unverified report had them returning from a family function in New Jersey.
He also said that the relationships between those inside the vehicle were not immediately clear but did include at least two sets of siblings.
The juveniles were not enrolled at any Connecticut school. Smith had been enrolled at a Brooklyn high school, Latimer said.
"This was a horrific accident. This was a horrific accident site," said Latimer. "We grieve with the families involved...these were individuals that had their whole life ahead of them."
Latimer said he hopes more details will come to light in the next 48 hours.