Four Ohio teens were charged with murder this week after being arrested for allegedly throwing a sandbag off an overpass and into traffic in a “prank” that left one man dead and two cars damaged, authorities said.
The incident occurred on December 19 outside Toledo, Ohio, where police charge that three 14-year-olds and one 13-year-old threw a sandbag off an overpass onto Interstate 75. The sandbag smashed through the window of a car containing Marquise Byrd, 22, who was a passenger in a vehicle in the southbound lane of the highway.
“The four juveniles were observed by officers leaving the area of the Indiana Avenue I-75 overpass after the vehicle, in which Mr. Byrd was traveling, was struck,” police said in a statement. “Detectives determined the falling sandbag was not an accident, but a deliberate act and probable cause to charge the juveniles was established.”
The investigation escalated this week because just before Christmas, the victim died at the hospital from blunt force trauma to the face, head, and neck, according to doctors.
Authorities said the teens would not be charged as adults, and Ohio law prevents the 13-year-old from being charged as an adult anyway. But the suspects have now been hit with murder charges since the victim died from his injuries.
The teens also each face two secondary charges of vehicular vandalism for a second car that was damaged during their “prank.”
A member of the victim’s family remembered Byrd as a pleasant young man.
“And he wasn’t mean-spirited; he was so loving,” Byrd’s family said in a statement. “He’s leaving a son, who will be three in the upcoming year. He has a mother and a brother and a host of other family members that are trying to make sense of this tragedy.”
The suspects are being held without bail at Toledo’s Lucas County Juvenile Justice Center.
The Ohio case mirrors a case in Michigan, where five teens were arrested for throwing a six-pound rock off an overpass near Flint, Michigan, killing a motorist in October.
It is also similar to a case in Pennsylvania, where a woman who was a passenger in a car was seriously injured when several teens threw a rock into oncoming traffic in 2015. The teens were tried as adults and convicted of a string of offenses.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.