According to the New York Post, four teenagers who died in a car accident in Buffalo on October 24 were participating in a TikTok challenge that dares people to steal cars. Marcus Webster, 19, Swazine Swindle, 17, Kevin Payne, 16, and Ahjanae Harper, 14, were identified as the deceased teens.
The crash also injured the 16-year-old driver and a 14-year-old female passenger. They were taken to the hospital to be treated. According to another person who spoke with WGRZ, Harper was a “young mother” who “definitely spent a lot of time with her daughter.”
The driver of the stolen KIA vehicle was released from the hospital after being treated. He has since been charged with unauthorized vehicle use and criminal possession of stolen property.
When the fatal accident occurred, the teens were allegedly attempting a TikTok challenge. The viral trend known as the “Kia challenge” teaches people how to steal certain Kia and Hyundai vehicles without using a key, according to WIBV. Screwdrivers and USB cables are two items that are frequently used to hot-wire stolen vehicles.
“We don’t want anyone to be victimized, and we don’t want anyone to be hurt,” Tonawanda Police Officer Joseph Milosich said. “Are these almost games?” And a lot of young people are getting involved in it, which can be frightening, right? Because there’s a lot at stake here, and it’s especially dangerous when things like joy riding and cruising around in vehicles are involved — there’s a lot at stake.”
According to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia, the number of reported car thefts has increased as a result of the viral challenge. However, experts argue that this cannot be the case.
“From an empirical standpoint, isolating a specific video that appears harmful and assuming that it has a large impact on people’s behavior is simply unreasonable.” “That’s not how media effects work,” Yotam Ophir, an assistant professor in the communication department at the University at Buffalo, told WIBV.
“Most people are unaware of these challenges, most people are uninterested in these challenges, and even if they find these videos amusing, that doesn’t mean they’re going to walk out and steal a car.”