Kenneth Andrew White was riding in the passenger seat of a van on Interstate 75 outside Flint, Mich., last Wednesday when a six-pound rock sliced through the windshield, striking him in the chest and head, police said. The 32-year-old construction worker was pronounced dead at a hospital.
“He was a good man and a good father,” Amiee Cagle, his fiancee, told news station WDIV Local 4. “For some senseless act, for it to be just a rock, just to take him so soon.”
She said the “stupid act” took away the father of their 5-year-old son and the “love of my life.”
Five teenagers have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with White’s death, Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton told The Washington Post. They were arraigned on Tuesday in Genesee County District Court and are being held without bond. Not-guilty pleas were entered for each of the teenagers, Leyton said. They will be tried as adults.
“The judge denied bond because he said it was a very serious incident and thought bond was inappropriate,” Leyton said.
The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell told WDIV Local 4 that the incident was “not a prank.”
“I don’t think anybody’s laughing,” Pickell told the station. “You make a bad decision, you could be spending the rest of your life in prison.”
The teenagers, between the ages of 15 and 17, could face up to life in prison. Investigators said that immediately after the rock-throwing incident, they left the overpass and drove to a nearby McDonald’s for food. After local authorities sought help from the public to track down the rock-throwers, one of the teens turned himself in at the county jail. The others were arrested.
In addition to the second-degree-murder charges, the teens are being charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and malicious destruction of property, Leyton said. The teens are: Kyle Anger, 17; Mark Sekelsky, 16; Mikadyn Payne, 16; Trevor Gray, 15; and Alexzander Miller, 15, all from Clio, Mich.
Frank Manley, who is representing Sekelsky, noted that each of the teenagers were charged with the exact same crimes. He said that as the investigation continues, “the facts as they come out will differentiate and distinguish everybody’s culpability.”
“One-size justice does not fit all,” he said. “It’s a broad brush they’ve painted on everybody, but the facts are going to be more particular.”
Erwin F. Meiers III, who is representing Gray, spoke along similar lines, saying that each new piece of evidence will help determine if “each one had a different role or if they had a role at all in what occurred that night.” Meiers said Anger is being held at the Genesee County Jail because he is 17 and that the other teenagers are being held at the county’s regional detention center for juveniles.
Police said about 20 rocks were thrown from the overpasses, as well as a tire. The cars below were driving about 70 miles per hour.
Investigators said four other cars also were struck by rocks and had pulled over to wait for the police. After White was hit, his friend had to maneuver around other cars that had been damaged by the rocks before he could pull over himself and help White, according to CNN.
White, who lived in Mount Morris Township, enjoyed sports, video games and the outdoors, according to an obituary, which said he was born in nearby Flint but lived in South Carolina for most of his life.
White’s sister, Alicia Waskoski, told WDIV Local 4 that she couldn’t understand “what a person could be thinking to even want to do something like that.”
In May, a woman driving outside Detroit was critically injured after a concrete chunk the size of a football became dislodged from an interstate highway and flew through her windshield, according to the Detroit Free Press. But the incident that took White’s life was no accident, authorities said.
“To propel the size of boulder down from the Dodge Road overpass to a 70-miles-per-hour vehicle that’s headed southbound, you ought to know — a reasonable person would know — that is creating a high risk of great bodily harm, or in this case, death,” said Leyton, the county prosecutor, according to ABC12.
Pickell said this was a case in which “nobody wins.”
“The young people are charged criminally, a young boy lost his father, and all of the families are left grieving,” he said.
After the arrests, White’s fiancee, Cagle, told ABC12 that she hopes the teenagers realize what they have done, “how many lives they tore apart, and know that what they did was wrong.”