Fact Check: Migrant Throwing Rock From Overpass Story Does NOT Check Out -- Local Teens Charged With 2014 Crime

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Migrant Throwing Rock From Overpass Story Does NOT Check Out -- Local Teens Charged With 2014 Crime Not By Migrant

Did a migrant who was angry that he had not received a packet of government benefits throw a rock from an interstate overpass, nearly killing a woman? No, that's not true: This story appears to be based on a 2014 incident that occurred along Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania. In that case the perpetrators throwing rocks were teenage boys from Pennsylvania, not a migrant.

The narrative appeared in a video (archived here) reposted on Instagram by @roningirl13 on February 22, 2024, with a caption crediting @kavellkavon, the original creator of the since-removed TikTok video:

😢😢😢🤬🤬🤬🤬. Created and Posted by kavellkavon

Text on the video reads:



(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Apr 10 16:15:19 2024 UTC)

The text of the narrative appears in captions during the video. The narrator says:

A migrant waiting on his care packet from the government, waiting for his $3,000, his free healthcare, his free internet, and free cell phone got upset because of how long it was taking the government to give him his care package, and do you know what this man did?
He gets upset, he goes to a freeway overpass and starts to throw rocks over that freeway overpass. Unfortunately, a daughter driving her parents home, she's driving, her mother is in the passenger seat and her father is in the back seat.
While they are driving, one of these rocks that this migrant, upset migrant threw over the freeway pass came through the windshield and hit, struck, the mother in her head.

Aspects of this narrative, mainly the description of exactly how the family was seated in the car, with the daughter driving, match an incident that happened on July 10, 2014, on Interstate 80 in Pennsylvania. The critical difference between the incident and the story presented by @kavellkavon was that it was not an upset migrant who threw the rock from the overpass. It was Dylan Lahr, one of four teenaged boys from Pennsylvania who together had engaged in several acts of vandalism and rock throwing that night. All four were tried as adults and were sentenced in 2015.

The Budd family, of Ohio, was traveling east on the interstate when just before midnight, a rock thrown from an overpass came through the windshield, crushing the skull of the mother, Sharon, who was in the front passenger seat. A week after the incident, the father, Randy Budd, spoke via telephone with HLN's Jean Casarez. His wife was still hospitalized, sedated and in critical condition. (video here). On August 28, 2014, HLN posted the 911 call on YouTube. The audio captures Budd's anguish as he discovers the extent of his wife's injuries.

Sharon Budd lost her eye and suffered permanent brain damage, but did survive. Two years after the incident, on August 6, 2016, Randy Budd killed himself.

To rule out if another incident involving a migrant may have occurred, Lead Stories conducted Google searches with a variety of Boolean operators. Except for links that directed to TikTok videos linked to the @kavellkavon video, the searches did not return any incidents involving a migrant throwing a rock from an overpass.

Additional rock-throwing incidents with injuries or fatalities are noted in a non-exhaustive list below. The people responsible for the rock throwing in these cases were either never found or were male teens who lived nearby.

  • December 8, 1990, state Highway 525, Everett, Washington: Lester L. Miller, the driver of a car, was killed by a rock dropped from the overpass. Two boys were arrested, a 12-year-old from Seattle and a 13-year-old from Everett.
  • October 18, 2017, Interstate 75, Vienna Township, Michigan: Kenneth White, the passenger in a van, was killed by a rock dropped from the overpass. Five male teenagers from Michigan were charged.
  • December 19, 2017, Interstate 75, Toledo, Ohio: Marquise Byrd, the passenger in a car, was killed by a sandbag that was dropped from the overpass. A 13-year-old who threw the sandbag that killed Byrd and three 14-year-old boys were sentenced to a youth treatment facility.
  • March 10, 2019, Interstate 35 in Temple, Texas: Keila Ruby Flores was killed when the car she was riding in was hit by a rock thrown from a railway overpass. This was the first of a string of three incidents in a short period of time. No suspect identified.
  • July 27, 2023, Highway 75 in Tulsa, Oklahoma: Eight-year-old Morgan Brown was hit in the head by a piece of concrete that came through the moonroof of the family van. Person responsible not found.
  • October 2023, Interstate 83 near New Cumberland, in York County, Pennsylvania: Six cars were damaged by rocks dropped from an overpass on four separate days. There was one minor injury to a person; two male juveniles were identified.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks on claims about migrants can be found here. One article debunks a false claim that illegal migrants are each receiving a $5,000 subsidy. A communications director from the Migration Policy Institute told Lead Stories that "We know of no federal government immigration program (or non-immigration program for that matter) providing $5,000 payments to anyone," and adding, "We are not aware of any federal program making direct payments, whether in cash, Visa card, or other method, to unauthorized migrants."

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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