News

Teen driver faces possible murder charges for deadly car collision

Whether the minor was drag racing is 'an important element,' according to the district attorney

Flowers at the site of a crash where two were killed by a teen driver in Redwood City. Photo by Leah Worthington.

Update: Police arrested two drivers, ages 23 and 17, who were allegedly racing each other when the teen's vehicle collided into a car carrying a family of four on Nov. 4. Read the full story.

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Murder charges could be filed against the teenager suspected of causing a Nov. 4 Redwood City collision that killed two Palo Alto natives, if the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office determines that he was drag racing.

The 17-year-old involved in the car collision is still in the hospital and may face manslaughter or murder charges upon his release, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

No arrests have been made, according to Det. Sgt. Nick Perna of the Redwood City Police Department, who told this news organization that "reports of any arrests related to this case are false."

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Four other people were also injured in the Nov. 4 collision, including the two passengers in the teen's car and the 7-year-old twin daughters of San Carlos residents Gregory Ammen, 44, and Grace Spiridon, 42, who died in the collision.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation, according to the Redwood City Police Department. Police are evaluating factors such as the traffic conditions, the speed of the juvenile's vehicle and statements from witnesses, according to Wagstaffe.

Wagstaffe said his office is reviewing the case and plans to file charges once the driver is released from the hospital, where he's being treated for injuries from the collision. The DA is considering both vehicular manslaughter and second degree murder charges. Whether the minor was drag racing is "an important element" in determining the appropriate charges, Wagstaffe said.

While a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of up to one year in county jail, a felony conviction means the driver could face up to six years in a state prison. If charged with second-degree murder, the minor could face 15 years to life in prison.

No decisions will be announced until the minor is "available to go to court," which could be within the next few days or weeks, Wagstaffe said.

Anyone with information about the collision is asked to contact the Investigations Unit of the Redwood City Police Department at 650-780-7111.

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Leah Worthington
 
Leah Worthington, a Menlo Park native, joined the Redwood City Pulse in 2021. She covers everything from education and climate to housing and city government. Previously she worked as the online editor for California magazine in Berkeley and co-hosts a podcast. Se habla espa├▒ol! Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

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Teen driver faces possible murder charges for deadly car collision

Whether the minor was drag racing is 'an important element,' according to the district attorney

by / Redwood City Pulse

Uploaded: Fri, Nov 18, 2022, 1:10 pm

Update: Police arrested two drivers, ages 23 and 17, who were allegedly racing each other when the teen's vehicle collided into a car carrying a family of four on Nov. 4. Read the full story.

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Murder charges could be filed against the teenager suspected of causing a Nov. 4 Redwood City collision that killed two Palo Alto natives, if the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office determines that he was drag racing.

The 17-year-old involved in the car collision is still in the hospital and may face manslaughter or murder charges upon his release, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

No arrests have been made, according to Det. Sgt. Nick Perna of the Redwood City Police Department, who told this news organization that "reports of any arrests related to this case are false."

Four other people were also injured in the Nov. 4 collision, including the two passengers in the teen's car and the 7-year-old twin daughters of San Carlos residents Gregory Ammen, 44, and Grace Spiridon, 42, who died in the collision.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation, according to the Redwood City Police Department. Police are evaluating factors such as the traffic conditions, the speed of the juvenile's vehicle and statements from witnesses, according to Wagstaffe.

Wagstaffe said his office is reviewing the case and plans to file charges once the driver is released from the hospital, where he's being treated for injuries from the collision. The DA is considering both vehicular manslaughter and second degree murder charges. Whether the minor was drag racing is "an important element" in determining the appropriate charges, Wagstaffe said.

While a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of up to one year in county jail, a felony conviction means the driver could face up to six years in a state prison. If charged with second-degree murder, the minor could face 15 years to life in prison.

No decisions will be announced until the minor is "available to go to court," which could be within the next few days or weeks, Wagstaffe said.

Anyone with information about the collision is asked to contact the Investigations Unit of the Redwood City Police Department at 650-780-7111.

Comments

Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Nov 18, 2022 at 9:24 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2022 at 9:24 pm

Felony vehicle manslaughter makes sense. Second-degree murder might be overcharging. Most jurors (in any trial) are parents, and it's a crap shoot.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Nov 19, 2022 at 11:08 am
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2022 at 11:08 am

Vehicular manslaughter is not murder. An example that might make it murder is if a person aims for people in cross walk and deliberately runs into them like a recent case in another state. I have viewed several videotapes of this ECR incident and while I would never "blame the victim" in this case, the defense surely will. It will be the only tool where there can be a reduction of charges or reduction in sentencing. A driver making an unprotected left turn, unfortunately, does not have the right of way. Very sad circumstances all around. Many lives destroyed.

The only case I personally know of involving vehicular manslaughter was a co-worker who was driving the car during a Saturday night bar-hopping incident, and drag racing a similar car (or so he said) but they never came forth and no one else witnessed the incident. All three of his passengers were killed instantly when the car hit a tree. The driver survived without injury. He was convicted of 2nd degree vehicular manslaughter. He, being the only survivor and the driver, shouldered all of the responsibility. I guess there's no way to convict Dodge or Jagermeister but both of them heavily factored into the reason why 3 people are dead.

I don't believe most jurors are parents. It's not a requirement. My first tour of jury duty was a capital murder case. I was not only not a parent, I was very much recently added to the "adult" list. Jury pools are a crap shoot, but the voir dire process determines the people who actually sit there to hear the case and render a verdict.


Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Nov 19, 2022 at 12:48 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2022 at 12:48 pm

Most jurors ARE parents because most adults are parents, and jurors are adults. Of course it's not a requirement, but statistically - parents outnumber the childless by a long shot. This isn't breaking news.


MyFeelz
Registered user
JLS Middle School
on Nov 19, 2022 at 10:42 pm
MyFeelz, JLS Middle School
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2022 at 10:42 pm

@jennifer I would like to know how you gather your statistics. Other than your presumption that any idiot should know juries are made up of mainly parents, is there an actual source?


Green Gables
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2022 at 10:55 am
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Nov 21, 2022 at 10:55 am

Dumb teenager will have to live with his irresponsible action


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2022 at 7:02 pm
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 21, 2022 at 7:02 pm

He was showing off. That's what drag racing is all about...putting lives at risk in the process. He killed the parents of two young children whose lives have been changed forever. Parents, please talk with your kids about this kind of behavior. There is nothing cool about risking the lives of other people. Make this story a dinner table conversation as soon as possible. Make sure that your child also understands that they are not just putting themselves and other people on the road at risk with their actions. They could destroy your whole family because YOU are legally liable for the actions of your minor teen.


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