CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Manslaughter charges were filed Monday against an Uber driver accused of agreeing to a deadly stunt.
The Suffolk County district attorney says Long Island teens paid him to let them car surf on the roof of his moving vehicle.
His driver’s license was taken away, and he faces years in prison if convicted, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
The teen stunt was recorded on Snapchat. It shows three boys getting on top of an SUV and then car surfing. The rest of the video shows the moments after 15-year-old Ryan Mullen’s fatal fall.
And now, the Uber driver who allegedly let him do it is facing serious charges.
“A young boy is no longer with us because of the actions of the defendant,” District Attorney Timothy Sini said.
Driver Danyal Cheema, 24, of Huntington allegedly agreed to let two boys ride on his roof. In court, his attorney declined comment other than offering condolences. Relatives of the driver sat stoic and silent.
Prosecutors said Cheema was summoned by three party-hopping and drinking teens in late September. They stopped at a 7-Eleven and offered the driver $40 to allow them to stand on his moving SUV and surf. The driver accepted and on curvy Cove Road Mullen fell off and hit his head. He died in his sleep that night from skull and brain injuries.
The deadly stunt video circulated among students at St. Anthony’s High School, which Mullen attended.
“Kids are obviously going to be stupid. He’s like the adult that was in the situation, so he should have said something to stop it,” one student said.
Sini said social media is often at the root of bad teen decisions, but the adult-hired driver should have known better.
“This is an adult who is engaged in a profession of driving people home so that they can be safe. And he did nothing. He did anything but that by taking money, $40, allowing those boys to car surf,” the DA said.
Cheema has no criminal record. A spokesperson for Uber said, “Words cannot describe how deeply troubled we are by this incident. This driver has been permanently removed from the app.”
Court papers indicate Cheema admitted he was driving when Mullen fell from his roof. He faces between 5-15 years in prison if proven guilty.
The DA said he hopes parents will use this tragedy as an opportunity to talk to their children about the dangers of underage drinking and dangerous decisions.