Students and faculty of George Washington High School were hit hard on Sunday by the news of a single-car accident that involved two freshmen. As the day wore on, the tragedy mounted: One of the boys had been driving, and the other had died of his injuries.
Police did not disclose the names of the boys, but their identities quickly came to light. The 14-year-old victim and the 15-year-old driver were both members of the high school's football team. Sunday evening, hundreds of mourners came together at the school for a candlelight vigil for the victim.
The boys were the only occupants of the 2006 Lexus convertible coupe as they sped along Quarry Ridge Road in Kanawha City late Sunday morning. Investigators said that the driver was likely exceeding the speed limit when he lost control of the vehicle, hit a pole and a tree and rolled over the hillside. When police arrived, they found the car on its roof.
The impact threw the passenger from the vehicle. The boy suffered serious injuries that he later succumbed to. He was not wearing a seat belt. The driver, however, was unhurt. He was wearing a seat belt.
He was not, however, driving the car legally. While the 15-year-old had a valid learner's permit, he did not have a licensed driver in the car with him, as required by West Virginia state law.
As the mourners gathered on the football field, the driver and his parents appeared in juvenile court. Police charged the 15-year-old with negligent homicide. The court released the boy into his parents' custody. More serious charges could be added if blood tests show the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
West Virginia Gazette, "Teen driver faces negligent homicide charge," Rusty Marks, Sept. 17, 2012
West Virginia Gazette, "Boy, 14, dies after Quarry Ridge accident," Sept. 16, 2012
Our firm helps families who have lost a loved one in a truck or car accident similar to the one reported in this post. To learn more about our Charleston, West Virginia, practice, please visit the motor vehicle accidents page of our website.