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Cops: Teen with learner's permit fatally struck girl, 4, with SUV

New York City Police investigate an automobile that

New York City Police investigate an automobile that was involved in a accident on New York's Upper West Side. The black SUV crashed into a restaurant on the ground floor of an apartment building. (June 4, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

A 17-year-old unlicensed driver was charged with manslaughter Tuesday after fleeing police and crashing an SUV into a Manhattan restaurant, killing a young girl and injuring her grandmother, authorities said.

Ariel Russo, 4, of the Bronx was pronounced dead at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center and her 58-year-old grandmother, who was walking with her, was in stable condition. Police would not release the grandmother's name.

Franklin Reyes, 17, of 337 W. 21st St. in Manhattan, who police said was driving alone with only a learner's permit, was arrested and charged with manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death after leading NYPD officers on a brief pursuit, officials said.

A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney's office had no information about an arraignment late Tuesday.

The chase began after officers stopped the black Nissan Frontier after it was being driven recklessly southbound on Columbus Avenue at 89th Street, police said. As two officers approached the vehicle on foot on 89th Street, the driver suddenly took off and turned onto Amsterdam Avenue.

The officers pursued in their patrol car and as the SUV attempted to make a turn onto 97th Street, it crashed into the front gate of a corner restaurant, an NYPD spokesman said.

The SUV struck the child and her grandmother about 8:34 a.m., pinning the girl against the gate, police said. The SUV then backed up into a parked car, and police arrested Reyes, the spokesman said.

A neighbor of Reyes said the teenager lives in the building with his mother and three sisters.

"He was a good kid," said Kenny Albert, who works at the building. "I never ever seen him get into any trouble."

Police said the SUV was traveling about 34 mph when it made the turn at 97th Street, slightly above the usual speed limit of 30 mph on city streets.

Chris Prostko, the superintendent of the building where the crash occurred, told The Associated Press he heard the impact of the crash. He said that when he came down, he saw the grandmother and the little girl lying on the sidewalk.

With Ivan Pereira

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