A Buffalo man has pleaded guilty to killing a teen who was riding in the vehicle he was driving while drunk. Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced that the 22-year-old pleaded guilty on the morning of Wednesday, June 29, 2022, before Erie County Court Judge Susan Maxwell Barnes to one count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide. Mkaipa M. Muya pleaded guilty to the highest count he was charged with.

On Monday, February 22, 2021, Muya was driving a car at a high rate of speed in Cheeoktowaga while under the influence of alcohol. He crashed the vehicle into a utility pole on Walden Avenue near Hoerner Avenue. The force of the crash caused his vehicle to hit a building after it struck the utility pole.

The collision caused the death of 17-year-old Leena Velez. She was taken to Erie County Medical Center where she died from her injuries. Another passenger, a 30-year-old male, who was riding in the front seat was also taken to ECMC with minor injuries. Muya was not injured in the crash.

He is facing a maximum of 25 years behind bars when he is sentenced on Wednesday, September 14, 2022. He is currently being held without bail.

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Gallery Credit: Yasmin Young

Why Are Drunk Drivers Less Likely To Be Injured In The Collisions They Cause?

First responders say that drunk drivers are less likely to be injured in the collisions they cause, according to The Drive,

By not bracing for impact, the intoxicated person's body is able to take the path of least resistance during a collision—it's not uncommon to find a drunk person curled up, relatively unharmed, in the car's front foot well—and is also more able to absorb the energy caused by the impact.

When I was 16-years-old, I was hit by a car, as a pedestrian, that was going 30 to 40 miles per hour. I did suffer a dislocated shoulder, but my injuries were definitely not as bad as they could have been. The reason is (as I was told by doctors) because I didn't see the vehicle coming, so I didn't tense up when it hit me. A Medevac nurse named Kaitlin McLoone told The Drive,

Try to relax as best as possible," McLoone says, "and don't try to control your body, or grab for anything.

Crazy, right? It goes against our instinct to not 'brace ourselves.'

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