Uber Driver Faces Charges After Car Surfing Leads to Teen’s Death

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A New York Uber driver faces time in jail after being accused of manslaughter stemming from a deadly incident earlier this fall.

24-year-old Danyal Cheema, of Huntington Station, was behind the wheel of the vehicle when he allegedly allowed three intoxicated teenage passengers to climb onto the roof of his moving car to “car surf.” The teens had agreed to pay Cheema in exchange for letting them pull off the stunt, which soon turned deadly as one of them fell off and passed away.

Cheema was charged earlier this month with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 15-year-old Ryan Mullen.  The teen lived in the Cold Spring Harbor area.

Cheema was being held in lieu of $200,000 bail following his arrest. Newsday reports that during his court appearance, Cheema seemed remorseful.

The deadly incident took place shortly after midnight on Sunday, September 23. Cheema was driving his 2010 Toyota Highlander for Uber when he picked up the three teen boys in Huntington. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office says the boys had been drinking. The investigation revealed that during the ride, the boys allegedly offered Cheema $70 cash — and actually gave him $40 — if he’d let them climb onto the roof of the car at an intersection in order to “car surf” as the vehicle took off.

Mullen and another teen stayed on the roof as Cheema continued driving along Cove Road, while a third boy recorded the action in a Snapchat video. Mullen’s subsequent fall caused severe head trauma “which resulted in his death,” according to the prosecutor’s office. Even though Cheema dropped all three boys to their destination at a residence in Huntington, Mullen “succumbed to his injuries in his sleep later that day,” the prosecutor’s office said.

“This was an incredibly bad decision by the defendant and a bad decision by the boys involved,” District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a news release. “But at the end of the day, this defendant is an adult who was contracted to safely bring those boys home and he failed to do that.”

“We have a culture right now where the mindset is, ‘How can we outdo each other?’ Particularly among young people on social media, and we often see the tragic consequences of that,” Sini continued. “A lot of young people think they are invincible and that’s something we need to keep drilling in their heads that this could happen to anyone when you engage in this kind of conduct. In this day and age, we often encourage people to use ride sharing services because it’s a safe alternative to drinking and driving. These boys were doing that; they were drinking that night and they made the right decision to contract with a car service.”

“Unfortunately 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 for that,” Sini added.

In his obituary, Ryan was remembered as a “loving son” and “fierce friend.”

He “lived life so large and his time here was short,” his family wrote. “God had other plans.”

Cheema faces five to 15 years in prison if found guilty of the manslaughter charge.

For more information, please visit the official website of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office HERE.

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I am a multimedia journalist and proud graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication. I am originally from Minnesota, and I love learning about my second home, Arizona, and all of it's awesome communities through my contributions to My Local News! When I was a little girl, I created my own "newspaper" for my neighborhood and spent all my time writing, printing and sending each edition to my loyal subscribers (AKA my family and neighbors!). Now, it's a dream come true to be able to write everyday and have a positive impact on communities through my reporting. In my free time, I love to travel, hike, cook and spend time with my family and friends.