"Having to now make arrangements for five of your children to be buried is a very difficult thing for anyone," Matt Conway said.
Five young people were killed in a crash on Hutchinson River Parkway after the vehicle veered off, struck a tree, and caught fire around 12:20 a.m. on Sunday, March 20. The vehicle was apparently being driven by a 16-year-old boy. The victims range in age from 17 years old to 8 years old and they were related. The teenager's father said his son never should have been behind the wheel.
"They weren't cousins, they were more brothers. Brothers and sisters, that's how close they are," said the driver's father, per CBS News. The siblings and cousins were driving to Derby, Connecticut, from a mall at the time of the accident. His son lived in East New York, Brooklyn, he said. “That’s his thing. He goes to the mall. He goes to get his ice cream with his cousin. They go to the movies. They walk around the mall. They do what teenagers and kids do, you know. So that’s, it’s just, I didn’t know he was driving by himself,” Smith said. The teen did not have a driver’s license or a learner’s permit and was advised not to get behind the wheel of a car. “I told him, his mother told him, his older brothers told him, stop driving without a license, without a permit. Anything happens, you get pulled over, you get in trouble for these things. Stop doing this,” Smith said.
A Scarsdale, NY crash left five children ages 8 to 17 dead when a Nissan Rogue veered off the Hutchinson River Parkway, hit a tree and caught fire. https://t.co/B4n3dmeAVU— ABC 7 Chicago (@ABC7Chicago) March 20, 2023
Police said the sixth person in the vehicle, a 9-year-old boy, was the only survivor in the crash and was riding in the rear hatchback/cargo area and escaped out of the rear. The child was taken by ambulance to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla with non-life-threatening injuries. Police confirmed to HuffPost on Monday that the victims were Malik Smith, 16; Anthony Billips Jr., 17; Zahnyiah Cross, 12; Shawnell Cross, 11; Andrew Billips, 8.
Five children were killed in a car crash on the Hutchinson River Parkway early Sunday, and police say the driver was just 16 years old. His grieving father told @LisaRoznerTV his son shouldn't have been behind the wheel. https://t.co/rrGZvkFQx0— CBS New York (@CBSNewYork) March 20, 2023
According to a Facebook post by the Westchester County Police Department, "the full circumstances of the crash remain under investigation by the Westchester County Police Accident Investigation Team and detectives from the General Investigations Unit. The deceased are from the state of Connecticut. Notifications to family members are underway."
Matt Conway, the superintendent of schools in Derby, told The Associated Press that he has reached out to the family to offer support. The children were part of a family that recently moved to the New Haven County community from New York. “It’s 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.
5 young people killed in crash on Hutchinson River Parkway https://t.co/1kd8ysanFE— CBS New York (@CBSNewYork) March 20, 2023
A GoFundMe organized to raise money for burial expenses describes it as "a very tragic accident" and that the parents need "anything that will help. We just want to put our babies to rest."
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe