CENTRAL ISLIP, New York — An Uber driver was charged with manslaughter for letting a teen “car surf” on the roof of his taxi from the boy fell and later died, authorities said.
Danyal Cheema, 24, was behind the wheel on Sept. 23, when 16-year-old Ryan Mullen and two pals — who had been out drinking at several parties — offered to pay him to let two of them ride atop his Toyota Highlander while the third boy filmed, prosecutors said.
Cheema agreed and Mullen and another boy climbed on the roof of the SUV while the third teen videotaped them on Snapchat, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. As Cheema began driving, Mullen fell and struck his head on the pavement.
He sustained a fractured skull, but went home and died in his sleep later that morning.
“The defendant made a reckless decision and engaged in reckless conduct that caused the death of a young boy, and he will be held accountable,” Sini said, according to Newsday.
Under the law, second-degree manslaughter means disregarding an obvious risk and causing a death as a result of reckless conduct. Cheema faces 5 to 15 years in prison if found guilty. He pleaded not guilty.
Ryan’s mother, Janice Mullen, told WABC-TV: “There was an adult present, and the adult should have said, ‘No, that’s a bad decision. You’re not allowed to do that.’ ” Ryan’s father, Matthew, asked: “What if the driver was responsible enough to say no?”
Cheema’s attorney, Christopher Renfroe, said his client has expressed remorse for Mullen’s death and does not have a prior criminal record. A spokeswoman for Uber said the company is cooperating with the investigation.