16-year-old charged in head-on Van Buren Township crash that killed 1, sent 3 others to hospital

Chataya Thurman killed in crash

The scene of a Feb. 7, 2021, fatal crash at Belleville and Ecorse roads in Van Buren Township. (WDIV)

VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A 16-year-old boy has been charged in a Van Buren Township crash that left one person dead and sent three other people to the hospital.

Crash details

Officials with Van Buren Township Public Safety said the two-car crash happened around 6:30 p.m. Feb. 7 on Belleville Road, between Ecorse and Robson roads.

A 16-year-old Van Buren Township boy was driving a black Pontiac G6 south on Belleville Road when he lost control and crossed the center line, police said.

The G6 went into the path of a Chevrolet Trailblazer heading north on Belleville Road, according to authorities.

The Trailblazer, driven by a 51-year-old Ypsilanti resident, struck the G6 on the rear passenger side, officials said.

Chataya Jayana Thurman, 20, of Van Buren Township, was riding as a passenger in the G6. She was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

The 16-year-old was treated at the scene and taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, police said.

An 18-year-old Van Buren Township woman was a passenger in the G6, officials said. She had to be extricated from the G6 by Van Buren Township firefighters and air lifted to University of Michigan Hospital, according to police.

The driver of the Trailblazer was treated at the scene and taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, officials said. He was evaluated at the hospital and discharged.

A 56-year-old Ypsilanti woman, who was a passenger in the Trailblazer, was taken to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital by ambulance, authorities said.


The 16-year-old has been charged with one count of second-degree murder and one count of reckless driving causing serious bodily injury.

He is not being charged as an adult, but he has been adult designated, prosecutors said. That means if he’s convicted, the judge has the option to sentence him as a juvenile, sentence him as an adult, or fashion a blended juvenile sentence with the option of imposing an adult sentence if he isn’t rehabilitated.

The boy was arraigned Wednesday at the Juvenile Detention Facility.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.