A 15-year-old girl is facing charges in connection to a fatal crash following a van theft from the William George Agency, a children’s institution in Freeville, Tompkins County. According to State Police, on December 28, she, along with three other teenage girls, stole the van as part of an escape attempt.
The incident turned deadly in the Town of Cortlandville when a sheriff’s deputy attempted to pull the van over after observing it run a red light at the intersection of State Route 281 and West Main Street. The van refused to stop, leading to a crash on the I-81 ramp in Homer when both vehicles failed to negotiate a turn. The collision resulted in the death of one passenger, 16-year-old Salena Wallner, at the scene.
The driver and two other passengers, aged 15 and 16, suffered serious injuries and were taken to Upstate Medical Center, while the deputy incurred minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital. The teen driver has now been charged with criminally negligent homicide and two counts of assault for her role in driving the stolen van.
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