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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A Cuyahoga County grand jury handed up a 23-count indictment against a man authorities say intentionally crashed an SUV into a utility pole, killing a 7-year-old girl and injuring several other passengers, most of whom were young children.
Roderick Stewart, 29, who is listed in court records as being homeless, is accused of crashing a Buick Enclave carrying 14 passengers, 11 of whom were children younger than 12, on Sept. 3 near the intersection of West 58th Street and Denison Avenue, according to a Monday news release from Cuyahoga County prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Stewart started arguing with one of the passengers, then said, “Shut up before I crash this car,” according to the release. He then swerved directly into the pole. Good Samaritans helped pull passengers from the car while Roderick fled on foot, prosecutors said.
Cleveland police, fire and EMS workers responded to the scene and transported passengers to a nearby hospital. A 7-year-old girl in the car, Dai’Nyla Wray, was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to the release.
“It is poor judgment, to say the least, to drive a vehicle carrying 14 passengers, 11 of which were children, in an SUV manufactured to hold seven,” Prosecutor Michael O’Malley is quoted in the release. “It is horrifying that this individual would then intentionally crash that vehicle into a utility pole knowing the severe damage it would cause including the death of a 7-year-old girl. My thoughts and prayers are with all who were affected by this tragedy.”
U.S. Marshals arrested Stewart on Oct. 11, just one day after reward money for his apprehension was announced. He had been on the run for more than a month, according to marshals.
He was indicted Friday, Oct. 20, on 23 counts:
- 1 count of aggravated murder
- 2 counts of murder
- 17 counts of felonious assault
- 1 count of aggravated vehicular homicide
- 2 counts of aggravated vehicular homicide
He’s due for arraignment at the Cuyahoga County Justice Center “at a later date,” according to prosecutors.