Teen charged with vehicular manslaughter

June 12, 2008 7:02:25 PM PDT
A 16-year-old Oakland boy who allegedly fled from police in a stolen car and then got into a crash that killed a fruit vendor was charged today with vehicular manslaughter, auto theft and illegal possession of a concealed gun.

A 16-year-old Oakland boy who allegedly fled from police in a stolen car and then got into a crash that killed a fruit vendor was charged today with vehicular manslaughter, auto theft and illegal possession of a concealed gun.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Scott Swisher, who filed the charges, said the boy will have a detention hearing in Alameda County Juvenile Court in San Leandro Friday afternoon.

Juan Vasquez, a 38-year-old fruit vendor, was killed when the fleeing car struck him near the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and 106th Avenue in Oakland about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The 16-year-old driver and four teenage passengers were all taken to local hospitals after the crash. They were treated for minor injuries and released.

The incident began when two school district police officers who were on their way to a call spotted a white, four-door 1992 Geo Prizm with five teenagers inside traveling in an erratic manner, according to Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint and Oakland police.

Oakland police spokesman Roland Holmgren said the right front passenger was a 16-year-old Oakland boy, the right rear passenger was a 13-year-old Oakland girl, the rear middle passenger was a 17-year-old San Leandro boy and the left rear passenger was a 14-year-old Oakland girl.

The school district officers decided not to stop the car because they wanted to respond to the call, so they honked at the other vehicle so they could get by, Flint said.

But the car suddenly jumped out and blocked the officers' car, Flint said.

He said the officers ran the car's license plate number and saw that it was on a "hot list" of stolen vehicles.

"Their hand was forced and they were obliged to apprehend the people in the other car," Flint said.

The officers chased the teenagers' car but didn't drive at more than 50 miles per hour, he said.

Flint said the teenagers would slow down and then speed up again in a chase that lasted only 48 seconds and covered a distance of half a mile.

He said the other car eventually went more than 50 mph, lost control, hit the curb once or twice, flipped over and struck and killed Vasquez.

Officers found a 25 mm pistol in the teenagers' car, Flint said.

He said two of the youths attend San Leandro High School, two attend Fremont High School in Oakland and one attends Madison Middle School in Oakland.

Flint said he's not sure which school the driver attends.

Swisher said there's "a wide variance" among witnesses' estimates of how fast the stolen car was traveling, with some people saying it was going at 45 miles per hour but others saying it was speeding at up to 80 or 85 mph.

Swisher said his best estimate is that it was going about 55 mph, which would be 25 mph above the posted speed limit of 30 mph.


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