Teen driver arrested in fatal Novato crash

September 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigators suspect alcohol may have played a role in a midday collision that killed a Novato High School student and seriously injured four others.

The driver of the BMW was arrested late Friday afternoon on suspicion of felony drunk driving. He was also driving without a license. The CHP says since the teenagers are minors, they are not releasing their names.

Officers found beer cans in and outside the wrecked car and inside the car they found a smashed bottle of liquor. It is unclear if and how much the passengers were drinking, but the CHP says the driver was above the adult legal limit of .08.

The silver BMW sits amid the grass and trees off the road, the rear of the car sheared off, a green notebook sticking out of the twisted wreckage.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the car carrying five Novato High School students was likely speeding as it rounded a curve on Novato Boulevard, lost control and hit a big rig carrying a full load of cattle.

One of the teens riding in the back seat was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The fatality passenger did have a seatbelt on, that's important for people to know, but when you suffer such a high impact, you can have internal injuries as well," Novato Fire Dept. spokesperson Sandy Wargo said.

According to school and fire officials all five teenagers are boys, under the age of 18.

Investigators confirm there were alcohol containers found in and around the car, but do not yet know whether they played a role in the crash.

The truck driver told ABC7 he was going just 20 to 25 miles per hour when the BMW fishtailed into his lane and smashed into the front of his rig.

"The preliminary investigation shows the BMW lost control negotiating the curve , spun out in front of the big rig, where it struck the truck and subsequently left the roadway where it came to rest," CHP spokesperson Chris Rardin said.

One firefighter was hurt trying to pull one of the passengers from the rear of the car.

"We did have a firefighter injured during the rescue to help try to get the patient that was in the back seat out," Wargo said.

Two of the injured students were taken to Marin General Hospital.

"Their vital signs are stable, they're conscious, they're awake, they're alert," Marin General spokesperson M.J. Martin-Boyd said.

At Novato High, word of the accident was spreading just as classes ended for the day.

"It's horrible, it's not a good thing; no matter who it is, I don't want to know someone who died, that's terrible," student Cayleigh Goodson said.

"There was an emergency announcement that all teachers who don't have a seventh period have to meet up in the library," student Sahand Tanha said.

Many students and parents are surprised to learn the accident happened just before noon. Lunch doesn't begin until 12:15 p.m.

"That's what's really disturbing about it is that if it happened at noon, what are kids doing drinking at 12 o'clock in the afternoon when they're supposed to be at school?" parent Aerial Volk said.

Students who know some of the boys involved in the crash say they are hoping for a speedy recovery.

"One of the guys is in my class you know, I really like talking about football with him and he's cool, I like him a lot. And I just hope the best for him really," student Tim MacAusland said.

School administrators declined to comment Friday, but say they plan to make a statement on Monday.

Students from Novato High have set up a Facebook group to support the teens who were in that car and their families. Well over 100 people joined the group within just a few hours.

Support the Novato High School Car Crash Victims and There [sic] Families


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