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Attorney: Unlicensed Teen Driver Admits To Everything In Accident That Killed Girl, 4

Franklin Reyes Is Charged In UWS Accident That Killed Girl, Injured Grandmother

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The 17-year-old unlicensed driver accused of striking and killing a 4-year-old girl and injuring her grandmother on the Upper West Side was in court Wednesday night to answer to serious charges.

As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, Franklin Reyes stands charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, fleeing police and unlicensed driving in the crash at 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue that killed Ariel Russo.

Reyes showed no emotion as his attorney called it all an unfortunate accident. He said Reyes has admitted to everything and blames only himself.

Reyes’ father would not answer whether or not he knew his son took his mother’s Nissan sport-utility vehicle to school on Tuesday. The high school student does not have a license – only a learner’s permit.

When Reyes’ attorney, Martin Schmukler, was asked if Reyes’ parents knew he had their car, Schmukler had no information to provide.

“I can’t tell you that,” Schmukler said. “I didn’t discuss with them whether their car was missing or not.”

In court Wednesday night, Reyes remained silent in a white T-shirt, as his attorney explained that he took the SUV to school Tuesday morning and was looking for parking when police tried to pull him over for reckless driving on 89th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.

“He did an illegal maneuver, so they stopped him right here,” said bystander John Rivera. “And the NYPD got out of the car. Once the NYPD got out of the car to go check him to see what was going on, he just sped off.”

Prosecutors said officers were trying to pull over Reyes for driving more than 25 mph above the speed limit and otherwise driving recklessly. But as the officers got out of their car to approach the SUV, Reyes sped off toward Amsterdam Avenue and turned north at a high rate of speed.

Reyes made it to 97th Street as police chased him with their lights and sirens on. Finally, he lost control of the vehicle and struck and killed Ariel, pinning her against the gate of Ozen Asian fusion restaurant, which was closed at the time.

Afterward, Reyes allegedly backed up and hit Ariel’s 58-year-old grandmother, who remained at St. Luke’s Hospital Wednesday with broken legs and a fractured back.

Ariel was in pre-kindergarten at Holy Name School across the street.

Ariel Russo (Handout)

Ariel Russo (Handout)

The victims’ family was not in court Wednesday night.

But through his attorney, Reyes admitted to everything and said he will have to live with it for the rest of his life.

“He’s not a violent kid,” Schmulker said. “He’s a good kid.”

Reyes is due back in court on Friday.

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