US boy, 14, charged with murder after egg prank and fatal crash

HOUSTON (NYTIMES) - A 14-year-old Texas boy who was said to have been throwing eggs at cars was charged with murder after he crashed into a pickup truck and killed a woman while being chased by another driver, the authorities said on Wednesday (Jan 2).

Around 2.20pm on Tuesday, the boy was driving a tan GMC Acadia westbound with two juvenile passengers "at a high rate of speed", the Harris County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

They were being chased by a male driver in a tan Lincoln after the teenagers were reportedly seen throwing eggs at other cars, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. The driver of the Lincoln displayed a semi-automatic handgun while giving chase, the statement said.

When the teenagers in the GMC Acadia reached the intersection of Aldine Mail Route and Aldine Westfield Road in Houston, the 14-year-old driver, whose name was not released, ran the red light and struck a Ford F-150 as the pickup was travelling southbound through the intersection, the authorities said.

In video of the crash obtained by the Houston Chronicle, two vehicles come spinning into the frame; one becomes momentarily airborne before both come to rest in a crumpled, smoky heap.

The driver of the Ford F-150, Ms Silvia Zavala, 45, was declared dead at the scene by paramedics, the sheriff's office said.

Ms Zavala, a single mother of two, had been visiting family for the holiday and had been out running an errand when her vehicle was struck, ABC13 Houston reported in a tweet shared by the sheriff.

The 14-year-old driver was subsequently charged with murder and booked in the county juvenile detention centre, Mr Gonzalez said, adding that the boy's ankle was broken as a result of the crash.

In the meantime, the driver of the Lincoln was located by investigators and was cooperating with the authorities, the statement from the sheriff's office said.

It was not immediately clear whether the driver of the Lincoln or anyone else connected to the episode would be charged with a crime. It was also not known if the 14-year-old would be tried as a juvenile or as an adult.

A spokesman for the Harris County sheriff's department did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages. The authorities said the case remains under investigation.

Asked whether the 14-year-old had been charged as a minor or an adult, a woman who picked up the phone at the Harris County Juvenile Justice Centre said she could "not release that information".