Once again, a tragic incident involving an unlicensed 16-year-old driver has occurred, this time claiming the life of a 14-year-old girl from Queens.
This incident follows two similar occurrences earlier this year. In New Castle, Westchester County, an unlicensed 16-year-old driver collided with a school bus, injuring nine. In March, another devastating accident occurred on the Hutchinson River Parkway, resulting in the death of five children aged between 8 and 17, including the driver himself.
The latest incident unfolded off the Belt Parkway in Springfield Gardens. Home security footage from North Conduit Avenue near 160th Street reveals a 2005 BMW, driven by the unlicensed teenager, changing lanes at high speed around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The driver lost control of the vehicle, colliding with a UPS truck parked in a travel lane.
Witnesses describe the loud sound of the crash and the horrific scene that followed. The collision knocked down the UPS driver, who was standing by the passenger door, before the BMW careened into a tractor-trailer.
Tragically, 14-year-old Fortune Williams, a passenger in the BMW, was thrown from the vehicle and fatally injured.
Her mother, Keisha Francis, heartbreakingly recalls the last conversation she had with her daughter, who told her mother she loved her multiple times a day. Francis, bereft and struggling with her loss, reminisces about her daughter’s dreams of becoming a doctor and her upcoming honor roll ceremony at Springfield Gardens High School, where she was a nursing student.
Local residents have raised concerns about the frequent speeding and numerous accidents that have occurred along this particular stretch of road over the years. The Department of Transportation confirmed the last fatal accident in this location was in 2018.
Police have not yet made any arrests related to Wednesday’s fatal collision. The investigation is ongoing. Both the UPS driver and the teen driver were transported to hospitals but are reported to be in stable condition. The tractor-trailer driver did not sustain any injuries.