SCHENECTADY — The 17-year-old driver arrested Tuesday after a car-pedestrian crash at Schenectady High School was speeding, driving erratically and attempting to ‘drift,’ according to police.
Drifting is described as purposefully making a car slide through a turn.
Kudzai Pamberi, 16, was taken to Albany Medical Center after the crash for treatment of what police initially called life-threatening injuries. Schenectady schools spokeswoman Karen Corona said in an email Wednesday that Pamberi was “doing better” and was expected to be discharged from the hospital Wednesday.
Shawn Permaul faces two felony charges, including second-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment, according to court documents.
He was also issued three tickets for misdemeanor reckless driving and traffic infractions, such as failure to keep right and for driving at a speed not reasonable and prudent.
He appeared in court Wednesday afternoon where he pleaded not guilty to the assault charge. He had been arraigned Tuesday on the other four charges, when he also pleaded not guilty, according to his attorney, Michael Horan.
A full stay away order of protection was issued to Permaul, who is a senior at the high school. City Court Judge Robert Hoffman did allow for an exception in the order for incidental contact. This was done in case the two were ever to cross paths at school.
Horan said Permaul and Pamberi did not know each other.
The crash happened at 12:03 p.m. on an access road behind the school’s football field during the first lunch period of the day at Schenectady High School, school officials said.
Permaul was speeding and driving his 2009 Honda Civic erratically in an effort to “drift,” according to court documents.
Court documents said Permaul lost control of his car twice with several pedestrians in the area before striking Pamberi.
School officials said Tuesday the area where the crash occurred is sometimes used by students who are allowed to leave school for lunch. They were unsure whether Pamberi was leaving school for lunch at the time.
Horan said Permaul is not charged with “any intentional crimes.”
“In Shawn’s case, he’s alleged to have done something foolish,” Horan said. “And here we are.”
Horan said the incident should be considered a wake-up call — not only for his client, but for other students at the high school.
“Many of us have been reckless 17-year-olds and have done foolish things,” Horan said. “Fortunately for most of us, it didn’t turn into a situation like this.”
Schenectady City School District Superintendent Larry Spring said that the district needs to look into how to help students become safer drivers and understand the responsibility that comes with driving.
“I think we have to do some real thinking about where we are with helping kids to make that transition from a learner’s permit to somebody who is driving on their own and, obviously, can make a really bad decision,” Spring said. “The problem with making a bad decision with a car is that it can be a life-altering or life-ending decision, and that’s the really scary part.”
It is unclear whether Permaul will be disciplined by the school for the incident.
“I can’t tell you what the specific consequences are, but this was obviously a violation to the district’s code of conduct, and actions will be taken in accordance to that,” Corona said in an emailed response.
Horan said Permaul plans to graduate this year and study mechanical engineering.
Permaul was released Wednesday on $10,000 bond that was posted by his father and grandfather, who were present in the courtroom, according to Horan. He is due back in court on Jan. 30, when he will be required to turn his license over to the court.
Hoffman also ordered Permaul not to drive anywhere as a condition of his release. Hoffman also said Permaul must not be arrested again.