Police: Teen Driver Imitating Movie Caused Fatal Crash
UPPER MORELAND TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) – A teen out for fun was charged in the death of a beloved 81-year-old Upper Moreland woman.
Prosecutors said the 17-year-old was trying a dangerous trick in his car he picked up from a movie. The crash occurred on October 12.
Upper Moreland Township Police responded to the intersection of York Road and Reed Street in the Willow Grove section of Upper Moreland Township, for a report of a pedestrian having been struck by a motor vehicle at that location.
Upon arrival, police determined that a blue 2000 Volkswagen Passat had struck and critically injured 81-year-old Zita Egitto. The investigation determined that the vehicle operated by the juvenile was traveling on York Road at a minimum speed of 79 mph. This area of York Road had a posted speed limit of 35 mph.
In an attempt to make the left turn across opposing lanes of traffic onto Reed Street, police said the juvenile driver pulled on his emergency brake for the purpose of sliding his vehicle around the turn, a maneuver commonly known as “drifting.”
According to police, the intentional use of the “drifting” maneuver by the driver caused the rear wheels of the vehicle to lock up. Police went onto explain the juvenile driver lost control of the Volkswagen, crossed over the double yellow lines and struck Egitto, who was walking on the sidewalk. Egitto succumbed to her injuries three days later.
The “drifting” maneuver is also called “power sliding.”
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, said, “This is a trend that this particular juvenile picked up from watching the movie, ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’. We learned from other individuals that he was practicing the day before and other times and unfortunately, his effort at this maneuver on this particular date had tragic consequences.”
The new information was a devastating blow to family and friends of the victim.
Thomas Egitto said, “Disbelief, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She was kind to everybody, very loving and took care of all of us. It’s really hard for us to go on without her.”
Wendy Rothwell added, “Really, a terrible thing all the way around. She was a unique person and was absolutely a wonderful person.”
The 81-year-old Matriarch is survived by her five sons, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Up until her tragic death, friends told Eyewitness News Egitto remained vibrant and active in her neighborhood by volunteering and leading various community-based groups.
“What we have with this case is, life imitating art. We have teenagers who want the thrill of driving fast, they want to act like their favorite movie character and they’re doing it to deadly consequence,” Vetri Ferman added, “We felt this was an important enough issue and trend in the teenage community, it has to be made public.”
The 17-year-old was charged with homicide by vehicle and related offenses. He was taken into custody Wednesday morning without incident and will go through criminal proceedings at the Montgomery County Youth Center.
Reported By: Elizabeth Hur, CBS 3