A tragic car crash in Scarsdale, New York has claimed the lives of five young cousins.
The crash took place on March 19. The victims included three boys and two girls identified as Malik Smith, 16, Anthony Billips Jr, 17, Zahnyiah Cross, 12, Shawnell Cross, 11, and Andrew Billips,8, with the only survivor being a 9-year-old boy.
The Nissan Rogue they were traveling in crashed off the Hutchinson River Parkway and into a tree, killing the driver, Smith, and his passengers.
According to Westchester County Police, the 2021 Nissan Rogue driven by Smith was rented by a relative. Although it did not appear that Smith was speeding, he allegedly failed to negotiate a turn in the northbound lanes of the Hutchinson River Parkway.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said at a press briefing, “We do not believe that speed was a factor in this accident,” he said. “The evidence on the scene indicates, but subject to final investigation assessment is that the operator was either distracted or fell asleep.”
The investigation is currently ongoing and is not considered criminal in nature, according to Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner Terrance Raynor.
Images of the young victims have emerged on social media, with their parents posting heartbreaking tributes and launching a fundraising campaign for their funerals.
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Anthony Bilips, a father of victims wrote on Facebook, “This is the most painful post I ever had to write in my life myself my wife Nicole Cross, my wife Tay Billips and my sister Michelle Walker lost our precious kids in a fatal car accident six kids where in the car only one survived the pain we are feeling words can even express, and we wouldn’t wish this to happen to anyone in this world we need all of yall prayers and kind words to help us threw this terrible time, please send all prayers Thank you, and we love you.”
Smith’s father said, “I told him, his mother told him, his older brothers told him, stop driving without a license, without a permit. You can get in trouble for these things. Anything happens, you get pulled over, you get in trouble for these things. Stop doing this.”
He added, “They wasn’t cousins, they were more brothers. Brothers and sisters, that’s how close they are. “He goes to get ice cream with his cousins. They go to the movies. They walk around the mall. They do what teenagers and kids do. I didn’t know he was driving by himself.”
As investigations continue on the crash, we hope that the families of the victims will find peace, while the surviving child and their family receive the support and care they need during this difficult time.