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Boy to face vehicular manslaughter charge

March 07, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

The District Attorney's Office will file a vehicular manslaughter charge against the 15-year-old driver of a pickup that was involved in an accident on a county road that killed a girl and injured two others Dec. 28.

Assistant District Attorney Joe Beard on Wednesday said the DA's Office will file a petition in juvenile court to have the youth declared a ward of the court. That petition will contain both a charge of vehicular manslaughter and a second charge that the teen did not have a driver's license.

Beard added because the case involves a juvenile, he cannot release the youth's name.

The California Highway Patrol, which recommended the charges be filed against the youth, has declined to release his name.

On Dec. 28 the 15-year-old was driving a pickup on Wheeler Road in the Superstition Mountains area. In the vehicle were three Imperial youths: Kyla Alsip, 16, in the front passenger seat, and Matt Bucher, then 11, and Gordon Belt, then 12, in the back seats.

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At some point the driver lost control of the vehicle. Kyla was killed in the accident. Gordon and Matt were seriously injured but are recovering from their injuries.

Highway Patrol officials have determined the youth was driving with permission from his parents, who were in the area at the time.

The teen driver was supposed to drive the pickup from one campsite to another and to stay offroad, where the vehicle code on possessing a driver's license would not apply. While Wheeler is a dirt road, it is still considered a county roadway and the vehicle codes apply to it.

The Highway Patrol requested the DA file a charge of vehicular manslaughter because officers allege the youth was driving at an unsafe speed for the road conditions and the time of night. They allege the youth was driving about 55 mph and it was about 10:30 p.m. when crash occurred.

Both the vehicular manslaughter and the driving without a license charges are misdemeanors.

Within the juvenile court process, the court can determine a "true" finding to the DA's petition, which is similar to a conviction in an adult case, or a "not true" finding. The youth would have the chance to enter an admission to the DA's petition.

If a "true" finding is reached, the teen would become a ward of the court and the court would determine what steps to take to rehabilitate the youth, Beard said.

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

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