I-TEAM: DCF talked to families of Derby children before deadly NY crash

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:47 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2023 at 6:18 AM EDT
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(WFSB) - The I-Team uncovered new information about a car crash in New York that killed five children from Derby.

Channel 3 learned that the state Department of Children and Families had spoken with the children who died.

The five children who died were all members of the same Derby family and that family had recently moved from New York to Connecticut.

DCF’s commissioner, Vannessa Dorantes, told Channel 3 that the agency performed what it called a “courtesy visit” to the family last month after New York Child Protective Services asked it to. It regarded an alleged incident in that state.

DCF conducted interviews, reported the results back to New York, and was told no further involvement was necessary.

It added in a statement that “this is an unspeakable tragedy, and our thoughts are with the family, friends, neighbors and others within the community who knew these children and are now grieving their loss and the trauma they experienced. We are currently reviewing our interactions with the involved families.”

In a news conference, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said the driver, 16-year-old Malik Smith, did not have a license or learner’s permit.

Latimer said Smith was driving a vehicle rented by a relative. They are investigating how Smith had access to it.

Smith’s father said the teen had been told by multiple family members not to drive in the past but did not know what happened over the weekend.

When asked if any adults could face charges, Latimer said that is still being reviewed.

Local attorney Ryan McGuigan, who is not involved with the case, said “in this particular case, the district attorney most likely will be looking at reckless charges, as low down as reckless endangerment charges and on the high end, manslaughter in the second degree, based on reckless conduct that results in the death of another human being.”

Investigators believe Smith was either distracted or fell asleep when he crashed.

The Office of the Child Advocate is another agency that is looking into what caused the accident. It too released a statement.

“The Office of the Child Advocate is a state agency that is charged, among responsibilities, with reviewing the circumstances leading to the preventable deaths of children. Accordingly OCA will keep apprised of the findings of state and local officials as they determine more about what led to this terrible tragedy,” it said.

It continues to investigate.

Stay with Channel 3 and the I-Team for the updates on the investigation.