A Springfield Gardens teenager and his parents were criminally charged in connection with the death of a 14-year-old girl who was a passenger in his car when he crashed into a parked UPS truck while allegedly speeding at more than 100 miles an hour, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
The victim, Fortune Williams, was ejected from the BMW and was pronounced dead at the scene on North Conduit Avenue near 160th Street in 2022. The unlicensed 16-year-old driver of the BMW, a gift from his father, is charged with manslaughter and reckless driving. His parents, Deo Ramnarine, 43, and Sean Smith, 39, of Springfield Gardens, are charged with endangering the welfare of a child and permitting unlicensed operation, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Dec. 5.
The 16-year-old driver had a junior license which allowed him to drive when accompanied by a licensed driver at least 21 years of age. The defendant was alone in the car with the victim at the time of the collision that sheared the vehicle in half, according to the DA’s office. Prior to the fatal collision, in November 2022, witnesses from the defendant’s school began seeing him regularly driving the same BMW to and from school unaccompanied by an adult. He was ticketed in November 2022 for driving without a license and driving while using a portable electronic device. His name is being withheld because of his age.
The now-17-year-old was arraigned Dec. 5 in Queens Supreme Court and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
According to the charges, on May 17, 2022, at approximately 6:38 pm, the defendant was driving a red 2005 BMW 325I westbound on North Conduit Avenue near 160th Street at a speed calculated at 101 miles per hour. The posted speed limit was 30 miles per hour. The teenager lost control of the vehicle when attempting to move from the left-center lane to the right-center lane and crashed into the back of a parked UPS truck. After hitting the truck, the BMW spun across the roadway and struck a tractor-trailer traveling westbound.
As a result of the initial collision, Williams was ejected from the front passenger seat of the BMW into the back of the truck. She suffered severe head trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the charges.
As a UPS employee was getting into his truck the BMW collided with the back of it, throwing the employee to the ground, the charges state. The UPS delivery man was transported by EMS to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition and treated for a large hematoma to his leg, a laceration to his face and a bruise to his chest. He has not returned to work since the incident and will require surgery to repair a torn muscle in his shoulder.
At Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries, the defendant explained to police that he had picked Williams up at her home and was taking her to his grandmother’s house. His father, who was with his son at the hospital, told police that while the BMW was registered in his name, he had bought the vehicle for his son and that the car was his son’s, the charges state. Three weeks after the fatal crash, on June 7, Smith told the car’s insurer that his son had driven the BMW approximately twice with him in the vehicle and that his son was a good driver.
“We will argue that the horrific car crash that took Fortune Williams’ young life was the result of recklessness and negligence,” Katz said. “Not only on the part of the minor behind the wheel, but the adults who put him in the driver’s seat.”
Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder ordered all three defendants to return to court on Feb. 5. If convicted, the parents each face up to a year in prison.