2 alleged stolen cars collide, leaving 16-year-old driver hospitalized; Charges pending

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Yet another crash involving teen drivers and allegedly stolen Kia and Hyundai vehicles has led to injuries — this time in Niagara Falls, the city’s police department said Saturday.

At approximately 8:22 a.m. Saturday, a 2019 Hyundai Sonata and a Kia, which were both allegedly stolen from separate hotels in downtown Niagara Falls, collided with each other during a chase with police on the Niagara Scenic Parkway, police said. The Kia rolled, ejecting its driver — a 16-year-old male from Cheektowaga. The teen was transported to ECMC where he entered surgery for a broken arm and internal injuries.

The 15-year-old driver of the Hyundai, which was reported stolen from the parking lot of the DoubleTree Hotel at 401 Buffalo Avenue, was not injured. The teen is also from Cheektowaga, according to police.

Charges are pending as the crash remains under investigation, police said.

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Police said officers initiated their pursuit after the owner of the Hyundai alerted law enforcement about the alleged theft and tipped them off on a direction of travel, finding the Hyundai being followed by the Kia. The drivers allegedly fled the pursuit driving eastbound on Niagara Scenic Parkway, where another police cruiser joined the chase.

The Kia then blew a tire and the driver lost control of the car. As the teen attempted to steer the Kia back into traffic, the Hyundai was attempting to pass a police car on the right, and the vehicles collided.

The driver of the Hyundai pulled over and surrendered to police. The driver of the Kia’s condition has not been updated.

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The Niagara Scenic Parkway was closed for nearly five hours heading east as officers processed the scene and cleared the cars and debris from the road.

The crash follows a slew of incidents both locally and nationally involving stolen Kia and Hyundai cars. Last week, a 17-year-old was sentenced to up to four years in prison tied to the crash of a stolen Kia that killed four teens. The same week, a 19-year-old was arrested in connection with the theft of 10 Kia or Hyundai vehicles this year.

Police have said thefts involving Kias and Hyundais reached unprecedented levels this year. Concerns have mounted over teenagers participating in the so-called “Kia Challenge,” a social media trend popular on TikTok where users posted videos appearing to show how to hotwire certain Kia and Hyundai models.

In May, Kia and Hyundai agreed to a $200 million settlement in a class action suit that tied security flaws in the design of certain models to a rise in thefts.

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Justin McMullen is a Western New York native who joined the News 4 team in 2023. You can read more of his work here.

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