Four are dead and one is facing criminal charges after a suspected social media stunt went horribly wrong on Monday in Buffalo, New York. The teenagers involved are believed to have taken advantage of an ignition exploit popularized on TikTok, enabling them to steal a Kia Sportage. Although they managed to start the car without difficulty, stopping safely proved to be a problem.

What are the details?

Buffalo police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia indicated that a Kia was stolen on Sunday night. On Monday morning around 6:45 a.m., that vehicle wound up accordioned near the on-ramp for the Scajaquada Expressway, backing up traffic for over an hour.

Before the crash, there were six teens in the stolen vehicle. Afterward, only the driver remained.

The New York Post reported that Ahjanae Harper, 14, Kevin Payne, 16, Swazine Swindle, 17, and Marcus Webster, 19, died after being thrown from the wreck.

WGRZ reported that Ahjanae Harper, among the deceased, was a young mother.

Another 14-year-old girl who went flying survived and is reportedly in good condition at Erie County Medical Center. She is, however, in intensive care.

The 16-year-old driver also survived but now faces a felony charge for unauthorized use of a vehicle and criminal possession of stolen property. WNBC reported that the Erie County District Attorney’s Office expects to file additional charges.

Gramaglia stated that “this is a terrible, terrible outcome for such young kids that had their entire lives in front of them.” He indicated that the suspected car thieves’ lives may have been cut short by the so-called Kia challenge.

The Kia challenge

There is a trend on TikTok prompting delinquents to exploit a vulnerability in Kia and Hyundai vehicles, whereby a USB cable or other charging cable can be used to easily bypass the keyed starter and ignition switch in the vehicles. Videos of carjackings began to proliferate on TikTok and elsewhere on social media in July, some of which explained step-by-step how this exploit works.

Electronic immobilizers require key confirmation for most cars to start, but were reportedly only standard in 26% of 2015-2019 Kia and Hyundai models, making them both susceptible to the USB cable-bypass hack. Hyundai and Kia models were singled out for this reason.

One Twitter user showcased the result.

According to Buffalo News, the Highway Loss Data Institute revealed that 2015-2019 Hyundai and Kia models are nearly twice as likely to be stolen as other vehicles of similar age.

The Washington Post reported that this has become a nationwide problem, which has prompted Kia to implement an immobilizer to all 2022 models amidst talk of lawsuits.

Gramaglia told reporters, “They’re very easy unfortunate to steal … You can look up the information that’s been out there. There are numerous cities across the country that are looking at looking into or have filed lawsuits against Kia because of the ease that they are able to steal these cars.”

Four teens killed in a crash where the 33 meets the 198

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