COLUMBUS, Ohio — A group of juveniles accused of crashing a stolen Kia into a firetruck on Monday all have prior records with the Franklin County juvenile court.
The crash happened while firefighters with the Columbus Division of Fire were on their way to a reported gas leak around 3 p.m. on East 11th Avenue near Interstate 71. Four firefighters were sent to a hospital to be treated for injuries and have since been released.
“Putting four Columbus Firefighters in the hospital for something that is equal parts dangerous and senseless,” said Columbus Fire Union Local 67 President Steve Stein.
Stein said the city paid for reinforced steel bumpers on the fire engines, which likely prevented further injury to the firefighters.
The five juveniles, ranging in ages 12-16, were also injured in the crash. According to a crash report, the 12-year-old was driving the vehicle. Columbus police found four guns inside the stolen Kia.
“Something like this is completely avoidable. To my understanding, virtually every one of these kids in the car had multiple guns in the car, had previous criminal records. That tells me someone in the criminal justice system is not doing their job. The result in this part is four Columbus firefighters hospitalized,” Stein said.
Through a public records request, CrimeTracker 10 obtained the criminal history of the five juveniles. The 12-year-old was arrested on May 18 for stealing a car and was sent home on an ankle monitor. The charges for the juveniles range from assault to receiving stolen property to aggravated robbery.
“Disgusted. I absolutely am disgusted by it. There were four firefighters that were transported to the hospital, a piece of vital equipment to public safety taken out of service. There were citizens lives put in jeopardy by the driving of the juvenile,” said Columbus Police Commander Alen Behnen. "There is absolutely no reason for juveniles to possess a handgun with an extended magazine full of ammunition. There is no reason for that."
Behnen says he is saddened by this pattern, but adds we all can work towards a solution.
“Find that one child, that one juvenile that is near you whether it is a relative or neighbor, give them some guidance, lead by example,” Behnen said.
Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack said his office is trying to teach the kids a lesson before it is too late.
“It's our job to at least put the fear of the current situation into their minds that they realize when this is all over, that they can be dead. Their friends can be dead,” Tyack said.
Charges against the juveniles are still pending.
The owner of the Kia, who wishes to remain anonymous for safety concerns, spoke to 10TV’s Ashley Bornancin.
“I'm really just infuriated that I am the victim in all of this, but I'm the one dealing with all the consequences,” the woman said.
She said she was shocked that her 2021 Kia Seltos was stolen from her quiet neighborhood in New Albany. The most common stolen Kias are 2015-2019 Kias including the Forte and the Sportage.
The stolen car, now totaled, remains at a lot. She said her life has been turned upside down.
“I'm the one that has to jump through the hoops, spend my money, spend my time, miss work and ask the people around me to help with all this because they decided to take my property and damage it."
The woman said this should be a wake-up call to the justice and says the current penalties are not enough.
“They need to do stronger things to keep these two back keep these kids back and behind bars and to keep them out from out being on the streets."