A Queens car accident has led to the arrest of a seventeen year old, according to the Daily News. Police estimated that the youth was driving in excess of one hundred miles per hour at 4:30 p.m. last Friday, the time of the crash that left ten people injured, but amazingly, none dead.
According to the News, the driver has been charged with reckless endangerment, although it does not specify which degree of reckless endangerment law enforcement officials have charged him with. Reckless endangerment in the second degree is a Class A Misdemeanor, and involves recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a substantial risk of injury to another person. The more serious crime is reckless endangerment in the first degree, which is classified as a Class D Felony. To be found guilty of first degree reckless endangerment, circumstances must evince a depraved indifference to human life, and under these circumstances an individual engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person. The Court of Appeals has defined depraved indifference as follows: “‘Depraved indifference’, as required to support conviction for first-degree reckless endangerment, is best understood as an utter disregard for the value of human life, a willingness to act not because one intends harm, but because one simply does not care whether harm results or not.” People v. Feingold, 7 N.Y.3d 288, 852 N.E.2d 1163. So essentially, depraved indifference is a means of showing mental state by showing a gross lack of care.
Whether the prosecution will pursue the felony charges is unclear from the report in the Daily News. Perhaps they will show leniency because of the driver’s age. To be certain though, driving one hundred miles per hour at a busy time of day could, in the eyes of a reasonable juror, be found to be depraved indifference to human life. How the rest of the story plays out remains to be seen.
The case will likely result in numerous civil lawsuits brought on behalf of the injured parties against the seventeen year old. Given his age, he may have been covered under his parents’ car insurance policy. Whether the coverage will be enough to properly compensate those injuries will depend on the extent of the injuries suffered, which were not reported by the Daily News.