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Home » Tompkins County » Teen charged after fatal van theft and crash the started in Tompkins County

Teen charged after fatal van theft and crash the started in Tompkins County

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

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.

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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.

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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.