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15-Year-Old Boy Dies in His Sleep After ‘Surfing’ on Roof of an Uber — Leading to Driver’s Arrest

A New York Uber driver is accused of manslaughter after three teenage passengers who’d been drinking allegedly paid him to let them climb onto the roof of his moving car — and then one of them fell off and died, PEOPLE confirms.

The driver, 24-year-old Danyal Cheema, of Huntington Station, was charged Monday with second-degree manslaughter in the death of 15-year-old Ryan Mullen, of Cold Spring Harbor.

Cheema is being held in lieu of $ 200,000 bond following his arrest on Sunday. It was unclear if he’d entered a plea. His attorney, Christopher Renfroe, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

In the incident shortly after midnight on Sept. 23, Cheema was behind the wheel of his 2010 Toyota Highlander as an Uber driver when he picked up the three teen boys in Huntington, after they had been drinking, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

On the way to their destination, the boys allegedly offered Cheema $ 70 cash — and gave him $ 40 — if he’d let them climb onto the car’s roof at an intersection so they could “car surf” as the vehicle took off, the investigation revealed.

Mullen and a second teen then remained on the roof as Cheema drove along Cove Road, with the third boy recording them in a Snapchat video.

Mullen’s subsequent fall led to head trauma “which resulted in his death,” according to the prosecutor’s office. Although Cheema brought all three boys to their destination at a home in Huntington, Mullen “succumbed to his injuries in his sleep later that day,” the prosecutor’s office said.

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“This was an incredibly bad decision by the defendant and a bad decision by the boys involved,” District Attorney Timothy Sini said in a news release. “But at the end of the day, this defendant is an adult who was contracted to safely bring those boys home and he failed to do that.”

“We have a culture right now where the mindset is, ‘How can we outdo each other?’ Particularly among young people on social media, and we often see the tragic consequences of that,” Sini said. “A lot of young people think they are invincible and that’s something we need to keep drilling in their heads that this could happen to anyone when you engage in this kind of conduct.”

He added: “In this day and age, we often encourage people to use ride sharing services because it’s a safe alternative to drinking and driving. These boys were doing that; they were drinking that night and they made the right decision to contract with a car service.”

“Unfortunately the defendant made a reckless decision and engaged in reckless conduct that caused the death of a young boy, and he will be held accountable for that,” Sini said.

In his obituary, Ryan was remembered as a “loving son” and “fierce friend.”

He “lived life so large and his time here was short,” his family wrote. “God had other plans.”

Cheema faces five to 15 years in prison if convicted of the manslaughter charge. He is due back in court on Friday.

Fashion Deals Update:

These Images From ‘Serial’ Bring The 15-Year-Old Murder Case To Life

“Serial,” the world’s most popular podcast, is coming to an end next week after just 12 episodes. The real-life mystery show about a 1999 murder has become a smash hit — for a podcast, anyway — and cultivated a strong community of fans.

Seriously, don’t doubt the loyalty of the “Serial” fan base. They’ve produced an active subreddit, combed the Best Buy that features prominently in the show for clues and come up with elaborate conspiracy theories. All in an effort to figure out who killed Woodlawn, Maryland, teenager Hae Min Lee.

According to the state of Maryland, it was Adnan Syed, Hae’s ex-boyfriend and her classmate at Woodlawn High. The state’s case rested primarily on the testimony of one man, known in the podcast only as Jay, whose story changes noticeably over the course of his several taped interviews with detectives. According to Jay, Adnan strangled Hae in a 21-minute window of time between leaving school at 2:15 p.m. and calling Jay to come pick him up at 2:36 p.m. on Jan. 13, 1999. Adnan has always maintained his innocence, but it didn’t matter to the jury: He was convicted of murder at age 19.

“Serial” host Sarah Koenig gives listeners some great descriptions — Adnan’s eyes are big and brown, “like a dairy cow,” while his classmate Nisha sounds “like a chipmunk” — but without visuals, we thought listeners may still have been left without a full picture of the case. Below are maps and photos we’ve rounded up from around the Internet.

Hae Min Lee, victim

Nearly one month after disappearing on Jan. 13, 1999, Hae’s body was discovered in Maryland’s Leakin Park. Described as popular and “always happy” by teachers, Hae played lacrosse and field hockey at her school. She had previously dated and broken up with Adnan — giving him the only clear motive for murder, according to the state — but had recently started dating a guy named Don, whom she worked with at a LensCrafters. A local news station once interviewed her, shown below.

Lee’s family is likely familiar with the podcast, but not pleased. “I pray that you don’t have to go through what we went through and have your story blasted to 5 [million] listeners,” a man claiming to be Lee’s brother wrote on Reddit. He posted an email purportedly from Koenig to verify his authenticity.

Adnan Syed, convicted of first-degree murder

adnan syed serial

Described by many as a kind, social, athletic “golden child” — or a “psychopath” — Adnan, now 34, was given a life sentence in 2000. Since then, he’s been in jail, where he’s maintained his innocence and — as he explained on the podcast — tried to become a better Muslim.

Jay, key witness for the state


The Daily Mail claims to have one photo of Jay, but we can’t confirm its authenticity. Jay was a small-time drug dealer who accused Adnan of murdering Hae and led detectives to her car, which had still been missing even after her body was found. Because parts of Jay’s story don’t line up with the cell phone records the state used in its argument, Koenig all but suggests he may have worked with the prosecutors to craft a timeline implicating Adnan, regardless of what really happened that day.

Cristina Gutierrez, defense attorney

cristina gutierrez

Put a face to that, um, very distinctive voice — Reddit user nomickti unearthed this video of Gutierrez, pictured in the screenshot above. One of Baltimore’s “best-known criminal defense lawyers,” she was disbarred a couple years after Adnan’s case for mismanaging client money. As Koenig explains, Gutierrez was possibly suffering symptoms of multiple sclerosis toward the end of her law career, and in 2004, she died of a heart attack.

(Fig. A) Woodlawn, Maryland

google map woodlawn serial

Reddit user jakeprops created this awesome map of noteworthy locations around Woodlawn, Maryland, where the murder allegedly took place. If Jay’s story is true, he sure did have a busy day of driving around town.

(Fig. B) Woodlawn High

Yep, looks like any other normal American high school. Adnan and Hae were both part of the school’s magnet program, while Jay was part of the regular student body. Below, you can make out two parking lots and a loop in the front of the school.

woodlawn high

(Fig. C) Woodlawn Public Library

Woodlawn Library, seriously pretty much on the high school campus. #serialtour

A photo posted by leggyshines (@leggyshines) on

Asia McClain claimed she had a conversation with Adnan at this library the afternoon of Jan. 13, 1999, but Asia was never called to testify in either of Adnan’s trials. Adnan stated he was on the school campus the entire afternoon, and while the library is technically off-campus, it is directly adjacent to the school.

(Fig. D) Best Buy

best buy woodlawn

Many listeners may have had a hard time envisioning a murder taking place in the Best Buy parking lot due to its public nature. But if you’ve seen the location, it becomes less difficult to imagine — there’s a side part that’s shielded from the front of the store.

The state alleged that Adnan, after committing the murder, called Jay from a pay phone at Best Buy. There is not, however, a pay phone there today, and Koenig expressed strong doubt that it ever existed. But people on Reddit say there was a pair of them at one point — in the lobby. To prove it, they photographed two electrical plates and a mismatched patch of carpet inside the front of the store. We can’t confirm the validity of these photos as evidence.

Other devoted fans also recreated the drive from Woodlawn High School to the Best Buy parking lot that Koenig herself recreated in episode five. According to the state’s timeline, Hae Min Lee would have had to make that trip — and Adnan would have had to strangle her and run to the pay phone to call Jay — in 21 minutes, right as post-school bell traffic was in full force. Koenig recreated the timeline, just barely making the 21-minute limit. She stated it was technically possible that Hae could have made that drive and been strangled in that timeframe.

In the fan-made video, the driver makes it in under eight minutes — but without the after-school traffic. He also deems the parking lot to be sufficiently secluded for a murder to take place unseen.

(Fig. E) The I-70 Park and Ride

According to Jay’s version of events, this is where he and Adnan left Hae’s car on the afternoon of Jan. 13, with Hae’s body in the trunk, while the pair took Adnan’s car in search of weed. Later that evening, they returned for Hae’s car, drove it to Leakin Park, and eventually left it in a residential lot.

(Fig. F) Leakin Park

The above photo was taken by Reddit user cat_morgue, who has an album of places of interest in the case. According to the podcast, the park has a local reputation as a dumping ground for bodies. Indeed, this is where Mr. S — the streaker who discovered Hae’s body when he pulled off the road to take a leak — led police.

A photo posted by Saalawon Abd (@salutations24) on

We noticed that quite a few Serial fans have posted evidence of their own Woodlawn tours on social media. In broad daylight, the park looks fairly innocuous.

(Fig. G) Adnan’s cell phone

serial cell phone

Adnan’s cell phone — the records from which were used by the state in court — was this old-school Nokia, according to longtime family friend and #TeamAdnan advocate Rabia Chaudry. She was the one who contacted Koenig initially with details of Adnan’s case, and thus “Serial” was born. Chaundry has also kept a blog about the case and the podcast.

(Fig. H) Crab Crib, home of the shrimp sale

Shrimp sale still on #crabcrib #serial #sarahkoenig #serialdrivingtour

A photo posted by Kata Solow (@katasolow) on

Still going on, apparently.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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