Sandbag dropped from an overpass kills a man, and four teens are charged with murder
Four teenagers have been charged with murder in Ohio after a man in a car was struck and killed by a sandbag that had been dropped from an overpass, authorities said.
Lori Olender, Deputy Chief of the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office, said that the four teens - three 13-year-olds and one 14-year-old - were charged with murder and two counts of vehicular vandalism for the Dec. 19 incident in which Marquise Byrd was fatally injured. The teenagers were arraigned on Wednesday, Dec. 27, and were being held in a juvenile detention facility, Olender said.
The Washington Post generally does not identify suspects charged in juvenile court.
Byrd, 22, of Warren, Michigan, was in the front passenger seat of a car traveling south on Interstate 75 through Toledo around 10 p.m. when a construction sandbag crashed through the car's windshield and struck him, the Toledo Police Department said. The driver of the car was not injured.
The four teenagers were observed leaving the overpass near the incident after the vehicle was struck, police said.
"Detectives determined the falling sandbag was not an accident, but a deliberate act and probable cause to charge the juveniles was established," the department said in a release.
Byrd was taken to the hospital after the incident in critical condition. He died three days later from blunt-force trauma to his head and neck, authorities said, after which the charges were upgraded against the teenagers, who had been arrested after the incident.
Byrd's cousin, Shaveontae King, told The Toledo Blade that the 22-year-old was engaged to be married and had a 1-year-old son. He had been on his way to meet friends in Toledo. "Young, energetic, outgoing, lovable," King said about Byrd.
"My auntie has to bury her son. He's gone. He's never coming back," King said. "She's holding up the best she can."
Olender said it was unlikely any of the four teenagers would be tried as adults; Ohio state laws don't allow for 13-year-olds to be tried this way and the children lacked significant criminal records, she said.
"I don't think I could make the argument," she said.
Olender said that the children were charged with two counts of vehicular vandalism because they had struck another car with a rock, though no one was injured in that instance.
In October, prosecutors in Genesee County, Michigan, said that five teenagers would be tried as adults after being charged for murder in an incident in which a passenger was killed by a rock, also on Interstate 75. The five teenagers face a potential of life in prison.
According to the Toledo Blade, the bridge over the highway from where authorities said the sandbag came from was under construction and was missing some of its protective fencing. While contractors remove tools from the site at night, the sandbags remain, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokeswoman told the newspaper.