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CHP seeks charges against teen driver

February 20, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

The California Highway Patrol will seek a vehicular manslaughter charge against the 15-year-old driver of a pickup that crashed on a county road in December, killing an Imperial girl.

Highway Patrol investigators have filed the complaint with the District Attorney's Office seeking that charge and a charge that the youth was driving without a license.

The boy has not been publicly identified because he is a minor.

Both charges recommended by the Highway Patrol — vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license — would be treated as misdemeanors in this case.

The decision on whether the youth will be charged rests with the DA. According to Highway Patrol officials, the DA has not made that decision.

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Information on the matter was unavailable from the DA's Office.

The case dates to Dec. 28 when, according to the Highway Patrol, a 15-year-old boy was driving a pickup with three youth passengers.

The pickup was traveling on Wheeler Road, a dirt road in the Superstition Mountains. While not paved, Wheeler is a county road and all traffic laws apply for those driving on that roadway.

Highway Patrol officials have alleged the teen was driving at about 55 mph when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed on Wheeler at about 10:30 p.m.

Sixteen-year-old Kyla Alsip of Imperial, who was in the front passenger seat, was killed in the accident. Two boys, Gordon Belt, 12, and Matt Bucher, 13, both of Imperial, suffered serious injuries. They were treated at Children's Hospital in San Diego and were later released.

Authorities have said the 15-year-old driver had permission from his parents, who also were in the Superstition Mountains at the time, to drive the vehicle. The youth was supposed to stay off road and drive from one campsite to another.

The Highway Patrol is seeking the vehicular manslaughter charge because it has determined 55 mph was an unsafe speed for the roadway at that time of night.

No charges are being sought against the teen's parents, officials have said, based on their investigation into the case.

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

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