Charge delayed against driver in fatal rollover

January 03, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

California Highway Patrol officials reported today it could be a month before they file documents seeking a manslaughter charge against a 15-year-old driver of a pickup involved in an accident Friday that resulted in the death of an Imperial girl.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Berger said investigators must wait on autopsy results from the county Coroner's Office before they request that the District Attorney's Office file the charge. He said it could be weeks to a month before all autopsy results are available.

Berger initially said the Highway Patrol could seek the charge against the El Centro teen Wednesday or today.

However, this morning he said it would take more time, adding it is standard procedure to wait for autopsy results to "rule out any other source of death."

The accident occurred at 10:30 p.m. Friday in the Superstition Mountains area.

Four youths, none of whom had a driver's license, were in a pickup being driven on Wheeler Road near Huff Road. The Highway Patrol reported the driver was age 15. The youth's name has not been released.


The others in the vehicle, all from Imperial, were 16-year-old Kyla Alsip, 12-year-old Gordon Belt and 11-year-old Matt Bucher.

According to the Highway Patrol, the pickup was heading down Wheeler at speeds of about 55 mph when the driver lost control, causing the vehicle to roll.

Kyla, who was wearing a seat belt in the front passenger seat, died at the scene from blunt trauma to her neck.

Gordon and Matt were injured. They first were taken to El Centro Regional Medical Center and then were flown to Children's Hospital. The boys were listed in fair condition this morning.

Highway Patrol officials said they are planning to seek the manslaughter charge against the teen because he was driving at an unsafe speed for the road. Wheeler is a dirt road and it was after dark when the accident occurred.

Berger said the teen was driving with the permission of his parents, who were in the area at the time.

He said those in the truck were driving from one camp site to another. He added the parents told the teen driver to only drive off-road.

Berger said the Highway Patrol is not planning to seek charges against the teen's parents.

Wheeler is a county road and it is not considered an off-road section.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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