[UPDATE BELOW] Investigators do not believe that alcohol was a factor in the car crash that killed three adults and two children and injured three others early Sunday morning, but added that they believed the Mercedes SUV was speeding when it hit a support for the AirTrain to JFK and flipped over. The Times reports that the passengers were heading home from a banquet hall where they had attended a celebration held by an association of Nigerian immigrants. FDNY Chief Stephen Browne told ABC that it was the worst accident he had seen in 26 years, and a witness told the Post, “one of the firemen cried as he looked at the children’s bodies."

It isn't known how many of the passengers were wearing seatbelts, but one of the witnesses to the crash's aftermath said that that only the driver had one on. The car, a Mercedes SUV, was designed to seat seven people. Inno Chima, who attended the celebration, told the Times that there was only "casual drinking" during the event at the Golden Terrace hall, less than a mile from the site of the incident.

The event marked the end of the annual conference of the Arondizuogu Patriotic Union National Congress of North America. “The convention was supposed to bring us together—not end in tragedy,” another participant from Houston, Anthony Nwankwo said.

A 7-year-old boy, the 45-year-old driver, a woman, and a 26-year-old man whom responders found sitting on the sidewalk near the car, all survived. Two of the killed were an 8-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy, and three others are women of unknown ages. None of the victims' identities have been released, pending family notification, but several people claiming to be relatives of those in the crash were outside of Jamaica Hospital.

“She has the best heart in the whole world,” 68-year-old Evelyn Anyaogu said of her cousin, Nnenna Obioha, one of those killed in the crash. Obioha said “We danced our native dance” at the event, and added that it was a “very, very good time.”


The NYPD has identified the following victims killed in the crash: 8-year-old Obioha Munachimso; 9-year-old Ebube Obafor-Mba; 60-year-old Gladys Nnena Johnson Obioha; 45-year-old Chiwe Mcdonald; and Christine Epchon, who age is not listed. The driver, 46-year-old Oby Okoro, 7-year-old Cjidechukwu Obioha, and 26-year-old Kingsley Maduka, are all listed in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital.

All of those involved in the crash have a listed address of 630 Baker Ave, Bronx, New York, except for Epchon, who lived in Brooklyn. The NYPD's release notes that there is "no criminality suspected," but that the "investigation is continuing at this time."