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Alleged impaired teen driver kills 2-year-old niece, another teen in wrong-way Tempe crash

Authorities believe a drunk teen was driving the wrong way off Loop 101.

TEMPE, Ariz. — A 17-year-old uncle was the driver of a wrong-way crash that killed his 2-year-old niece Monday night, according to the Tempe Police Department.

Authorities said the teen was driving a black vehicle the wrong way. They allege he was heading north on Price Road when he collided with a white car that was heading south.

Four people were on board the wrong-way car, including the 2-year-old girl, identified as Nianee Card of Tempe, and another teen who died, 17-year-old McClintock High School senior Aldous Harris of Tempe.

The child’s mother was also in the vehicle and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said. 

Credit: Courtesy Donnell Card
Nianee Card, 2, of Tempe was killed in a wrong-way crash in October 2021.

Police said the toddler was not strapped in a car seat and believe the passenger who died, Harris, was not wearing a seatbelt.

"Some people think they can transport their child holding them in their arms," explained Deona Bien, director of Women's and Children's Services at Tucson Medical Center. "Your loving arms are just not going to be enough to protect your child."

The CDC’s latest data showing that nearly 40% of kids 12 and younger who die in car crashes aren’t buckled up.  And that even if a child is in a car seat an estimated 46% aren’t being used correctly.

It’s not clear how exactly the child was restrained in the car that crashed in Tempe.

Bien added that children under 8 years old are required to ride in a car seat in Arizona unless they’re taller than 4' 9".

RELATED: Phoenix school bus driver accused of driving while intoxicated

Authorities believe impairment may have been a factor in the collision.

“Many times people think about wrong-way drivers only happening on the freeways and unfortunately they are happening all over the roadways,” Tempe Police detective Natalie Barela said. 

From the start of the year to Oct. 24, the Department of Public Safety said it has investigated nine non-injury wrong-way collisions, 22 injury collisions involving wrong-way drivers and six deadly wrong-way crashes.

The agency said impairment is a factor in most serious injury and fatal wrong-way collisions. They do not track surface street collisions including wrong-way collisions.

“This road is fairly fast-paced, people go 45 to 50 miles an hour,” said Ed Traum, who lives nearby. “It’s upsetting to see.”

The driver of the wrong-way crash sustained non-life-threatening injuries. 

Tempe police said the case will be submitted to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for review. As a result, the driver is not in police custody. 

The woman driving the other car is in the hospital with serious injuries but is stable.

Police are using this incident to highlight the importance of being vigilant while driving and the use of car seats.

“Every time you put a child in a car, that child needs to be in a proper car seat,” Detective Barela said. “[The child] needs to be properly restrained, anything can happen you just really never know.”

Editor's Note: 12 News does not name juveniles unless they are being charged as an adult. 

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