The four teenagers who lost their lives in a Buffalo car crash, including a young mom, were attempting a TikTok challenge.
The fatal victims and a surviving teen were riding in a stolen Kia driven by their 16-year-old friend when the speeding car crashed Monday morning, ejecting all five passengers.
Marcus Webster, 19, Swazine Swindle, 17, Kevin Payne, 16, and Ahjanae Harper, 14, were killed when the stolen Kia they were riding in crashed Monday morning, ejecting them and one other passenger, WGRZ reporter Claudine Ewing confirmed Tuesday.
The driver, 16, was treated at the hospital and released, while a fifth passenger, a 14-year-old girl, is listed in good condition at Erie County Medical Center.
What is the TikTok Kia Challenge?
The teenagers got the idea to steal the car from a TikTok challenge that encourages people to break into Kia and Hyundai cars with phone chargers, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told reporters Monday.
The so-called "Kia challenge," shows TikTok viewers how to hotwire the two makes of cars with a USB cord and a screwdriver and dares them to participate in the illegal activity.
Police departments across the country have reported an increase in thefts of Kia and Hyundai cars since the first video was posted over the summer.
A class-action lawsuit was filed last month in Orange County, California alleging that Kias built between 2011 and 2021 and Hyundais built between 2015 and 2021 lack anti-theft machinery called engine immobilizers which makes them easier targets of theft.
"Isolating a specific video that seems detrimental, and assuming that it has a huge impact over people's behavior, is just unreasonable from an empirical point of view. That's not how media effects work," Yotam Ophir, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo communication department, told WIBV.
"Most people don't know about these challenges, most people don't care about these challenges, and even if they watch these videos and find them amusing, it doesn't mean they're going to walk out and steal a car."
Driver Charged Over Crash
The driver of the Kia has since been charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal possession of the stolen property. He is due back in court in November.
The investigation into the accident remains ongoing. "We certainly send our deepest condolences and sympathies to all the families, and everyone impacted by this unfortunate and horrific tragedy," the Buffalo Public School District stated in the wake of the crash.