Four New York City teenagers who just graduated from high school were killed on Tuesday when their car was hit by a driver fleeing the police, officials said.
Yonkers residents, Brandon Sierra, Randy Brisbane, Tamari Watkins and Anthony Cruz, all 18, were inside a 2006 Nissan sedan, according to the Yonkers Police Department.
Shortly after 9:20 pm, authorities tried to stop the driver of an Infiniti sedan that he was driving “erratically”, police said.
The driver, who was also killed, was identified as Devon Haywood, a 36-year-old resident of Mount Vernon. He seemed to pull over, then accelerated and drove “beyond reckless speeds,” he said.
Haywood had a history of reckless driving, officials said.
While the teen-packed Nissan took a right turn at an intersection, Haywood crashed into it, splitting the Nissan in half. All four teenagers were expelled and died on the spot.
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Haywood was taken to a hospital where he later died.
In a statement, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano called the deaths “nothing short of tragic”.
“Four young people’s lives were interrupted by an individual’s recklessness,” he said. “May this be a lesson to all who drive at excessive speeds – it not only puts your life at risk, but also the innocent lives with whom you share the road.”
The department said it was not in a high-speed chase at the time of the deadly collision. The surveillance video posted on the police department’s Facebook page appears to show a white car speeding past an intersection. A police vehicle is seen at a reasonable distance, traveling at a moderate pace.
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“Our policemen are trained to assess all situations and, in this case, are turned off and have not sought to avoid this exact type of result,” said Lt. Police Lieutenant Dean Politopoulos of Yonkers. “The sector car was about 15 seconds ago and not in emergency mode.”
Sierra, Brisbane and Watkins graduated from Saunders Trades and Technical High School earlier this year. Cruz graduated from Riverside High School. Schools and the Yonkers Public Schools district expressed condolences for alumni on Wednesday.
An investigation into Tuesday’s events is underway.