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


One Comment

  1. mike s. 19 yrs. old says:

    A tragic story no doubt! I think all of you people have strong points in your arguments… except Mary. Mary you are a evil person. Thank God that Mary has no say in what happens outside her own home. What a big dummy.

  2. Larry says:


    You seem to indicate that you are not the young driver’s parent but it sounds like you are.

    Regarding the weak “immature moron” invective (your term for me), it typically applies to someone who thinks only of his or her OWN situation, then calls others silly names when they disagree on a topic. That, of course, makes YOU the immature moron in this discussion.

    I feel very sorry for any children having you as a parent. They obviously have no maternal role model who even minimally attempts to act like an adult. You acknowledge that, with two young boys, you might have to deal with a similar situation in the future. How about trying to be a real parent and start teaching them responsible behavior? Sure there are no guarantees but your fear of the future leads me to believe you have no confidence in your mentoring skills. Your self-centered, childish post reinforces that image. Please look deeply in the mirror before calling others “irresponsible”, an “idiot” and an “immature moron”.

    Your juvenile attacks continue against another poster named Marianne, again using the term “idiot” and accusing her of feeling “clearly perfect”. I don’t see anything in her post conveying that level of self-admiration. Once again you can’t disagree in a coherent, adult manner. Instead, you falsely make up words and ideas attributed to others in a lame attempt to support your lenience toward young killers. That is how someone of such limited vocabulary tries to make a point, and I am specifically referring to you.

    The tragic loss of Zita Egitto was not a typical spur-of-the-moment accident caused by youthful inexperience. The young man spent substantial time repeatedly practicing his “drifting” maneuver the previous day, then had all night to think about it. After daybreak he made a conscious decision to escalate the action to a populated street and he behaved like a jerk, ultimately taking a life in the process. The fact that he did not intend to kill someone only rules out the possibility of capital punishment in the event he is tried as an adult. However, his actions were clearly premeditated and rehearsed to the point that he knew the situation could turn out very badly. In doing so, he engaged in a textbook example of criminal negligence even if we don’t count the death of the victim in this equation.

    It would devastate me if my son committed such a crime. As a loving parent, I would do everything possible to mount an effective legal defense. At the same time, one of my first actions would be to apologize to the loved ones of the victim and encourage my son to do the same. While none of us is “clearly perfect”, he understands that his potential actions have consequences, be they from me or the legal system.

    It takes a big person to understand the importance of offering an apology at the proper time, which is why “letsbereal” has trouble comprehending such a basic human virtue. To you I say, PLEASE GET REAL and grow up. The rules of an orderly society do not revolve around the wants of you and your kids.

  3. letsbereal says:

    Marianne – you too are an idiot! After attending Mrs. Egitto’s funeral at St. David’s and speaking with her family and friends, I hardly think I need to write an apology. Not once did I say the boy should not be punished – of course he should. That said, I (as well as many others) think that life in prison is a bit extreme. Perhaps you should try some forgiveness like Mrs. Egitto would have. And I dare say that this was not done with malicious intent becuase I highly doubt the boy INTENDED to take a life. He made a horrible and tragic mistake of youth. As far as apolgies, maybe you should consider one for thinking that you are clearly perfect.

  4. Marianne says:

    To letsbereal: the boy needs to be punished for his deadly actions. Taking a life. How dare you say this was not done with malicious intent. Driving 79 MPH does not belong on the street; it belongs on a rack track. He is a killer and should be punished as an adult. They try 14 year olds as adults, why not him? You need to write an apology to Mrs. Egitto’s family and pray for yourself.

  5. letsbereal says:

    Larry, what kind of an idiot are you? Honestly – sending a 17-year-old boy to prison for the rest of his life is only compounding this tragedy. While, the boy was wrong – clearly – this was not done with malicous intent. Yes, he made a very poor decision (as have we all), and it had devastating results. While I can’t imagine what the family of the woman who lost her life must be going through, I’m sure this is horrible for the boy and his family also. He will have to live with this for the rest of his life. As a mother, I couldn’t even imagine having to see my child in this position. Yet, with two young boys – this could just as easily be me one day…and for that matter, maybe even you! So for you to make such a stupid comment is both heartless and irresponsible. Try to think like an adult Larry – not an immature moron.

  6. john says:

    if will raise he age of driving to 21 all it will cause is more DUI’s and the last thing me need is more drunks out on the road

  7. Dan says:

    Please don’t let the boy watch “Death Race 2000”.

  8. Larry says:

    Stop saying driving is a privilege. In today’s world it is a right that can, and should, be taken away for not taking it seriously, for acting like an idiot, or for failing to meet its minimum skill and medical requirements.

    Raising the driving age to 21 is a ludicrous suggestion. The legal driving age was 16 when I obtained my license. We were certainly mature enough to get behind the wheel without harming ourselves or others, and today there are numerous teens who are quite responsible. We had a “junior” license before age 18, during which our parents were liable for any adverse consequences of our operating a vehicle. Why are parents escaping that kind of responsibility today? It needs to be brought back.

    Back in “the day”, it was not customary for mom and dad to buy Junior a vehicle. Experience was obtained in the family car, often with at least one parent or other family member in tow. Car commercials never glamorized the act of “drifting” as they so often do now. One trait of a good, fun vehicle at that time was its ability to stay ON the road, not to slide off it.

    Allowing young drivers the opportunity to gain experience is crucial. Delaying that until age 21 will simply create an new, more dangerous class of unseasoned drivers at an age bracket four years older than it is now. An let’s not forget that the 26th Amendment sets the voting age at 18, so any politician who suggests raising the minimum driving age would risk a serious backlash in the voting booth from young adults.

    I hope the kid who killed Zita Egitto gets life in prison without any chance of parole. This case is a matter of personal responsibility. Neither the movie industry nor the car advertisers committed this accident. It was done by a young, spoiled moron who made the conscious decision that his stupid actions were more important than the safety of the rest of the world. He took a beloved and vital member of the human race from this world for no justifiable reason, and for that he needs to be taken out of circulation permanently.

    1. Phil Kinsey says:

      I’ve been a licensed motorist since August 1966, also starting with a Jr license, similar to your experience. If you refer back to your driver manual, and the manual today, you will see that driving is indeed a privilege, not a right.

      As for the driving stunt, the offender certainly did not learn it on his own, nor from Sesame Street. Red Skelton put it best years ago when the topic of violent programming and its influence on viewers was studied. He said, if my sponsor thinks that they can influence my audience to buy their product in a 60 second ad, then what kind of influence is there from the other 59 minutes of programming.

      1. Larry says:


        Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I remember watching Red Skelton from the early black & white days until his show was canceled, in 1971 I believe.

        About driving being a “privilege”, we can respectfully disagree on that point. Printing it in a driving manual for education purposes does not make it fact, just an opinion. One goal of the manual is to establish a mindset favoring safety. Calling driving a privilege helps to reinforce that goal, which is admirable, but the manual is not considered an authoritative legal source in court for purposes of enforcement.

        Once upon a time, riding horses and carriages was a necessary part of existence and therefore a right that could not be revoked. In the modern word and in our highly developed country, we have made livestock-powered travel impractical and even dangerous in heavily populated areas. Driving has become accepted as a necessity, and therefore a right, subject to proper safeguards. If one of us is denied that right for any particular reason, there is an extensive system of appeals and hearings available to the aggrieved party. Conversely, privileges can be more easily taken away, often on a whim or mere accusation, with little or no recourse.

        As for the rest of your post and the Red Skelton comment, I’m not exactly sure what point you are making. I believe you are saying that we learn from external influences, to which I fully agree. I would add that we as humans have the judgment to determine how to properly use what we learn from those sources, and how to mold our behavior to fit the rules and social norms of our peers. As punishment for the most serious offenses, revocation of one’s basic right to live freely among society is sometimes, and sadly, necessary to protect the rest of the populace and to set a strong example.

  9. john says:

    kid is a total idiot end of story!!! the sport of drifting and or a movie is not to blame here it is the teen and his own stupidness for pulling that stupid stunt on a public street

    1. Phil Kinsey says:

      I understand your point, but there is more than just his “stupidity” that goes into the mix. He is a minor, there is lack of parental oversight, and he is at an age where impulse often overtakes sensibility.

  10. Ron Redding says:

    Here’s a suggestion.

    I propose that all parents with teens in the 4 states (PA, NJ, NY, DE) demand that their governors raise the driver license age from 17 to 21, immediately, no ifs, ands, or buts, no exceptions. 21-year olds are a bit more responsible than teens. The parents will use the arguments that teens are acting irresponsible behind the wheel and since driving is a privilege you will wait to your 21st birthday for that privilege.
    Governors……are you listening?

  11. Phil Kinsey says:

    Too many people don’t take their driving seriously. They go too fast, jabber on the phone while they drive, despite that now being illegal, and don’t consider the consequences of their actions, actions which can be devastating, as is the case here. In this instance, an inexperienced 17 year old driver was left to his own devices behind the wheel of an automobile. Obviously there was not enough parental accountability and oversight, but there was enough theatrical influence from some simple minded Hollywood production with devastating results for all involved. Driving is a privilege, not a right. We all need to keep that in mind. Our capability, or lack of same, at the wheel can so easily take and ruin lives.

    1. Larry says:

      Talking on the phone while driving is not illiegal everywhere. In Pennsylvania, it’s a violation within the city limits of Philadelphia, and I believe in Allentown. Elsewhere in the state it’s perfect legal although not well advised for many people.

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