On Oct. 18, Kenneth White made the two-hour commute home from his construction job, but he never arrived.GoFundMe
At the same time the 32-year-old father of four was traveling down Michigan’s I-75, a group of teens was reportedly engaged in a round “Dinging,” a game in which a car is hit with a rock in order to hear the “dinging” sound when the rock hits the metal.
White was a passenger in a van traveling under the Dodge Road overpass when a rock, 5-by-8-inches and weighing 6 pounds, was allegedly thrown from the overpass and smashed through the windshield striking White. As a result, White died from blunt force trauma to the head and chest.
According to an attorney involved in the case, White reportedly sustained lacerations and abrasions to the head and face, a skull fracture, an injury to the brain, fracture to his facial skeleton, a large laceration to his chest, and a broken clavicle and upper ribs, Genesee County Prosecuting Attorney David Leyton said.Genesee County Sheriff’s Office
The group of teens allegedly responsible for throwing the rock are now being charged as adults for murder and face life in prison.
Five teens, ages 15 to 17, were arraigned in court Tuesday, where they each pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, six felony counts of malicious destruction of property and two misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of property, WNEM reports.
Leyton said he doesn’t believe the teens intended to take anyone’s life, but that they should have known better:
“I don’t think this was a deliberate attempt to take somebody’s life. It was a willful and wanton act that resulted in somebody’s death. These people should have known better. Under Michigan law that is second-degree murder.
These particular individuals knowingly created a very high risk of death or great bodily harm, knowing that death or such harm would be the likely result of such actions.”
According to WDIV, four other cars had been hit with large rocks prior to the one that struck White and were waiting for police to arrive. No other injuries were reported.
Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said prior to the incident that killed White, the five teens reportedly threw a tire off of another overpass and then went to McDonald’s to eat.
White’s father, Kenny, told reporters he’s in disbelief the teenagers allegedly found their actions a source of entertainment:
“I just don’t understand how somebody could just go out like that and think it’s fun. I mean, you take somebody’s child away from them. You take their father away from them. You take their brother away from them.”
Clio Area Schools Superintendent Fletcher Spears III issued a statement regarding the Clio High School students:
Clio Area Schools joins with the entire community in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Kenneth White in the wake of his tragic death on October 18, 2017.
This is an extremely difficult time for our entire community. Whether we knew Mr. White, those who are being charged and their families, or have driven this same stretch of road countless times, many of us have a personal connection with this senseless tragedy. This is a stark reminder that we need to impress upon all of our young people that actions have consequences: and sometimes those consequences can be tragic.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Mr. White’s family, as well as his many friends during this difficult time. As a District, we are also working to provide support to those in our school and community who have been impacted by this tragedy. Due to privacy requirements, imposed by federal law, we cannot provide any information regarding the students involved.
A defense attorney for one of the teens, Frank Manley, said it’s important not to judge all of the teenagers in the same light:
“Although the charges are the same, the kids are all different. The actions that the kids may have become involved in are all different. So even though the charges were read exactly the same, my anticipation is that there will be a distinction once the evidence comes forward.”
Manley’s client is not the teen allegedly responsible for throwing the rock that killed White, though the defense attorney noted his client’s family is “devastated” over the tragedy.
Bail was denied for all five teenagers, and they are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 2, WNEM reports.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help in White’s honor to help his family lay him to rest. His fiancée, Amy Cagle, called White “a good man and a good father.” White was reportedly 10 minutes from home when the accident occurred.
WNEM interviewed child psychologist Dr. Thomas Haller to discuss what could have driven the teens to allegedly throw rocks from the overpass: