If you’re already driving for a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft, or planning to do so, here’s a free tip that might not come with the regular training and orientation: Never allow passengers to ride on the roof of your car to film “car surfing” stunts. It’s you that will risk prison time should anyone die after falling off the vehicle.
Twenty-four-year-old Danyal Cheema was charged with second-degree manslaughter, ABC NY reports, after 15-year-old Ryan Mullen died in his sleep following complications from a brain injury he suffered during an Uber ride.
Cheema picked up Mullen and two other friends at midnight on September 23rd in Huntington Station, and the teens offered the driver $40 to let them “car surf” on the roof of his Toyota Highlander. Two of them climbed on the roof, with the third one recording everything on Snapchat.
It was Mullen who fell off, hitting his head on the pavement. The driver then took the teens to their destination, and Mullen died during his sleep later that day, from complications following the initial accident. Cheema, who was arraigned on Monday in Suffolk County Criminal Court, faces a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison. Police say he confessed on video, but he’s pleading not guilty to the charges, according to NBC NY.
“This was an incredibly bad decision by the defendant, a bad decision by the boys involved, obviously,” Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini said. “But at the end of the day, that defendant is an adult contracted to safely bring those boys home, and he failed to do that.”
Uber also issued a comment on the matter: “Words cannot describe how deeply troubled we are by this incident. Our thoughts are with the rider’s family during this difficult time. This driver has been permanently removed from the app.”