Fatal car crash that killed four teenagers has been linked to a popular Kia Challenge trend on TikTok. Independent.
Buffalo police say six people were in a stolen Kia Sportage. It crashed shortly before 7 am on October 24 in upstate New York.
Three victims died at the scene, and the fourth - already in the hospital. Investigators say all the victims were between the ages of 14 and 19.
The 14-year-old girl was hospitalized after the incident and was only recently released from the intensive care unit.
The victims of the accident were 19-year-old Marcus Webster, 17-year-old Swaziland Swindle, 16-year-old Kevin Payne and 14-year-old Ajana Harper.
“This is a terrible morning for families, their friends, our police officers. As well as our investigators and the fire department who investigated this case,” said Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia. “This is a terrible outcome for children who had their whole lives ahead of them.”
The driver of the stolen Kia, a 16-year-old boy whose identity has not been released, was taken to the hospital, after which he was transferred to the custody of the Buffalo police.
He was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree. As well as illegal possession of stolen property of the fourth degree. The first hearing in his case will take place on November 15.
Investigators believe Kia was stolen on the evening of October 23, and link the theft to a TikTok challenge
A trend on the social media platform is showing people how easy and quick it is to steal Kia's made in the last decade. This can be done without a dongle using just the USB cable.
“Unfortunately, they are very easy to steal,” said Commissar Gramaglia. – You can see the information published there. Across the country, many cities have launched investigations or filed lawsuits against Kia because of the ease with which these cars can be stolen.”
This trend has become popular under the #KiaBoyz hashtag and has led to a huge spike in Kia and Hyundai car thefts. In Portland, Oregon, the number of thefts of Hyundai vehicles has increased by 153% over the past year, and Kia by 269%, according to police data. And in Columbus, Ohio, these two brands accounted for 38% of all stolen vehicles in 2022.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore said that the number of car thefts in the city increased by 85% in 2022. And he also blamed TikTok for this jump.