An Uber driver faces charges after prosecutors said he allowed a teenage boy to car surf on his vehicle, resulting in injuries that killed the teen later.
Prosecutors said a group of three teenagers paid Cheema $40 on Sept. 23 to let them car surf on top of his Toyota Highlander — with at least one teenager balancing on top of the vehicle as another captured video of the spectacle on Snapchat, according to PIX11.
District Attorney Tim Sini said that Ryan Mullen, 15, fell off the Highlander during the stunt, and injured his head when he struck the ground, NBC New York reports. Mullen, a resident of Long Island, went to a friend’s home after the fall, where he died of brain injuries hours later, WABC reports.
“This was an incredibly bad decision by the defendant, a bad decision by the boys involved, obviously,” Sini said, according to WABC. “But at the end of the day, that defendant is an adult contracted to safely bring those boys home, and he failed to do that.”
Officials said in court that the boy’s injury hadn’t been visible before he fell asleep and died, PIX11 reports. Prosecutors said the teens had been drinking, according to Newsday.
Uber said it has permanently barred Cheema from the app, according to WABC.
“Words cannot describe how deeply troubled we are by this incident,” the ride-sharing company said in a statement, WABC reports. “Our thoughts are with the rider’s family during this difficult time.”
Mullen would have graduated from St. Anthony’s High School in 2020, an obituary published by Patch said. The obituary described Mullen as a someone who was “friends with everyone,” and who “loved to laugh, enjoy life, or spend the day on the boat with his friends.”
Cheema is being held on $200,000 cash bail, PIX11 reports, and could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.