BUFFALO, N.Y. (HPD) — A car accident that left four teenagers dead may be linked to a TikTok challenge, according to police in New York.
Six teenagers were in a speeding Kia vehicle that crashed around 6:30 a.m. Monday, Buffalo police said. The car was reported stolen Sunday night.
All five passengers were thrown from the vehicle, according to police. Four of them, aged between 14 and 17, died. The fifth passenger was hospitalized in intensive care and the 16-year-old driver was treated at a hospital and released.
Charges were filed against the driver on Tuesday. His lawyer could not be contacted to find out about his legal situation.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told reporters Monday that the teens may have been participating in a TikTok challenge that encourages people to keyless start Kia cars using cell phone chargers.
The so-called “Kia Challenge”, which began circulating in the summer, shows how to hot-wire Kia and Hyundai cars with a USB cable and a screwdriver. Police departments across the country have reported increased thefts from Kia and Hyundai cars since the video surfaced.
A class action lawsuit filed in September in Orange County, California, alleges that Kias made between 2011 and 2021, as well as Hyundais from 2015 to 2021, lack anti-theft parts called engine immobilizers, making the cars easier to to steal than other models. The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation for damages to automakers and a nationwide recall.
Representatives for Kia and Hyundai did not respond to emails seeking comment.