A 14-year-old mum and three other teenagers have died after a horror car crash in New York State. Ahjanae Harper leaves behind a five-month-old daughter named Tru.
The crash occurred Monday last week. Six teenagers were travelling in the stolen Kia when it crashed around 6.30am in Buffalo, New York, according to officials.
The inspiration for the theft appears to have come from a TikTok meme dubbed the “Kia Challenge”, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said at a press conference.
Videos uploaded on TikTok show criminals hotwiring the cars using a USB charger and a phone charger and often dare youngsters to drive off in the vehicles.
Authorities say there has been an uptick in stolen Kias and Hyundais since the first video was uploaded over the summer.
A relative of Ahjanae Harper, Victoria Hutchins, gave a heart warming tribute to her cousin on a GoFundMe page she set up for the family.
She said: “My little cousin. Ahjanae was our baby she was full of life and had so much more life in her to live. If you had a chance to know Ahjanae then you’re a blessed individual.”
“Ahjanae was always happy, kept a smile on her face. Ahjanae was such a sweetheart. Unfortunately she was taken away from us unexpectedly in a horrible car accident.
“She would’ve been 15 on November 1 of this year. Ahjanae did leave a piece of her down here on earth and that is her baby Tru. Tru has to go through life without her mother,” Ms Hutchins added.
Four of the passengers in the car were killed while one passenger, another girl of 14, was taken to intensive care after suffering life threatening injuries.
Police have named the victims as Marcus Webster, 19; Swazine Swindle, 17; Kevin Payne, 16; and mum-of-one Ahjanae Harper. The injured girl has not been named.
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Buffalo Police commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said in a statement: “It’s a horrific morning for the families, their friends, our police officers and our investigators and fire department that were there investigating this.
“This is a terrible, terrible outcome for such young kids that had their entire lives in front of them.”
The driver of the vehicle, who is 16-years-old, has been charged with criminal possession of stolen property and unauthorised use of a motor vehicle. He is due back in court on November 15.
The Erie County district attorney’s office said it was investigating the crash and additional charges were likely to be filed, according to spokesperson Kait Munro.