Authorities in Michigan filed murder charges against five teenagers they say are responsible for throwing pieces of rock from an overpass at cars onto the interstate below.
On October 23, Flint prosecutor David Leyton announced the charges in relation to the death of 32-year old Kenneth Andrew White of Mount Morris. He was on his way home from work when the vehicle he was riding in was hit with a large piece of rock from an overpass above. The rock went through the windshield, striking and killing White. Officials say the teens fled the scene, and they weren’t brought into custody until three days later, acting on a tip.
White, from the Flint area, leaves behind four children and a fiancee, all who are grieving his unexpected death. He’s been described by those close to him as being a loving father and friend.
Here’s what you need to know about White and the incident:
1. White Was Killed While on His Way Home From Work
The incident took place October 18, and the Detroit Free Press reported White was the passenger in a vehicle that was traveling south on I-75 in Vienna Township, about 80 miles north of Detroit. He on his way home from his construction job when his life was suddenly ended.
As the van was driving down the interstate, a piece of rock hit the windshield, striking White. Police said that the van was one of five cars that were hit with the large rocks. Nobody else was injured, but the other victims were awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel on the side of the road after White was hit.
Police said White was struck by a 6-pound rock that was thrown from the Dodge Road overpass. He was hit in the chest and head, which caused major trauma. He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Officials discovered at least 20 rocks on scene and launched an “intense” homicide investigation, asking anyone with information about the incident to come forward. They offered up to $2,500 for the info.
“We have a family here,” Genesee County Undersferiff Chris Swanson said to reporters. “This guy’s got a fiancee. He’s got a child. He’s on his way back from a hard day’s work and out of the blue comes a rock and he loses his life. We want to find out who’s responsible for this.”
Officials closed the southbound lanes of I-75 from Vienna Road to Mt. Morris Road as part of their investigation and didn’t reopen them until days later. A drone was seen overhead by reporters taking photos and mapping evidence in the incident.
2. Police Acted on a Social Media Tip to Find the Teenage Suspects
Sources told WDIV Local 4 News that investigators acted on a social media tip on Friday and confirmed that multiple teenagers had been taken into custody and were being questioned in the investigation.
Leyton announced at a Monday press conference that the five teens were charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and six counts of malicious destruction of property, all felonies.
Those five teens are all from Clio, Michigan: Kyle Anger, 17; Mark Sekelsky, 16; Mikadyn Payne, 16; Trevor Gray, 15; and Alexander Miller, 15.
“It’s not a prank, it’s second-degree murder,” Sheriff Robert Pickell told WDIV Local 4. “I don’t think anybody’s laughing. You make a bad decision, you could be spending the rest of your life in prison. This is not a prank.”
Leyton said that after the teens allegedly threw the rocks off the overpass and hit White’s van, they went to a nearby McDonald’s to eat.
“I don’t believe this was a deliberate act to take someone’s life, it was a willful and wanton act that resulted in someone’s death,” Leyton said. “These people should’ve known better. They should’ve known this could kill someone, and under Michigan law, that’s second-degree murder.”
3. White Had a Fiancee & Was the Father of 4 Children
According to his obituary, White was born on February 7, 1985 in Flint. He lived in South Carolina for a majority of his life and was a construction worker. The obituary also said that he loved sports, playing video games and spending time in the outdoors.
White had a fiancee and was the father of four children: Keleigh, Tristan, Junior and Ace. His father Kenneth Sr. lives in St. Petersburg, Florida while his mother, Theresa Job, lives in Georgia. He also had five siblings: Alicia Waskoski, Thomas Gordon, Kyle White, Miranda Sparkman, Brianna Habedank, and Korey Jobe.
White’s aunt, Nancy Vizcarra, told ABC 12 News that he moved back to Michigan from South Carolina about two years ago with his fiancee Aimee Cagle and their son. She described his family as being a “big, blended one” and remembered him as always being protective of his brother and family.
White was laid to rest on October 23 in front of many family members and friends. A memorial service took place at the O’Guinn Family Funeral Home in Clio, and his body was cremated.
Many people left their messages of condolence on his online obituary page, ranging from friends to family members.
“R.I.P Kenneth, I am so lucky to have met you and work alone side you,” friend Brad Marlow wrote. “I’m glad we had our last conversation, if I’d only knew it would be our last, fly high buddy you’ll be missed.”
White’s aunt, Annette, left an emotional message on the page remembering his life.
“Kenneth, you know that your uncle John and aunt Annette love you very much,” she wrote. “I will miss your smile you always had good and bad times. Uncle John lost his chip and dip buddy. But you will always be in our hearts. I love u to the moon and back. Our entire family will miss you.”
White’s Facebook account shows numerous photos of him smiling while spending time with his children.
4. White’s Family & Friends Have Been Left Shocked & Saddened by His Death
White’s family and friends were understandably shocked and saddened by the unexpected news of his death. One of White’s children was with his fiancee Aimee, who told WDIV Local 4 News that he was a stand-up person.
“He was a good man and a good father,” Cagle told the news outlet of White. “For some senseless act, for it to be just a rock, just to take him so soon. He took away a child’s father, and the love of my life. His stupid act took away a life.”
One of White’s friends spoke to NBC 25/FOX 66 News and argued that the prosecutor hasn’t been tough enough on the teenage suspects.
“A second-degree murder charge is not enough,” he said. “To me, they knew what they were doing when they were throwing the stuff over the overpass. What did they expect would have happened if they hit a car?”
White’s sister, Alicia Waskoski, told WDIV Local News that it was hard to come to terms with the death of her brother.
“I just don’t understand what a person could be thinking to even want to do something like that,” she said. “To know they’re putting lives in danger by just throwing rocks over the interpass.”
5. A GoFundMe Campaign Was Launched to Raise Money Toward Funeral Costs
A GoFundMe campaign was launched by a family friend in Mount Morris to fund for White’s funeral cost. Rita Taylor wrote in the GoFundMe description: “His family needs help to lay their son, brother, dad, nephew and friend to rest.”
I am a lifelong friend of Kenneths father and was asked to create this page. I have also spoken with his (step)mom, Jennifer and she is fine with this. I am trying to ease some of their burden during this time. Any Donations will be greatly appreciated.
Taylor wrote that she had the permission of White’s father and family to keep the GoFundMe open.
“No father should ever have to bury his child and no child should ever have to be told that daddy is never coming home again,” an update said. “The heartfelt messages and Donations mean so much. Thank You on behalf of the family of Kenneth A.White.”
In five days, the campaign has raised over $46,000 toward its $50,000 goal. To donate, click here.