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Petition filed against driver in fatal crash

August 07, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A West Virginia State Police trooper on Friday forwarded a juvenile petition to the Morgan County Prosecutor's office charging a Berkeley Springs teenager with negligent homicide in connection with a fatal accident a week ago.

Cpl. Max Kingery, who investigated the accident, said the driver is 17 years old. The teenager is charged with causing a single-car crash that killed a 15-year-old passenger on July 31.

Morgan County Prosecutor Debra McLaughlin confirmed that her office received the petition. She said she could not comment further on the case because it involves a juvenile.

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Speaking not in reference to this case but in general, McLaughlin said state law requires a petition be filed against a juvenile. A judge signs off on the petition and the juvenile then has a preliminary hearing in Magistrate Court. After the preliminary hearing, the case is forwarded for a final adjudication hearing, in which a punishment least detrimental to the child is handed down, she said.

Kingery said that police determined the driver was going between 74 and 85 mph just before the 2:30 p.m. accident on Fairview Drive.

The driver hit his brakes, began to spin counterclockwise and hit the tree. Police determined the driver was going between 71 and 80 mph when the passenger side of the 1985 Ford Mustang hit the tree.

Upon impact with the tree, the car split in half. The rear portion of the car, including the back seat, remained a few feet away from the tree, Kingery said.

The boy who died was riding in the back seat and was partially ejected and trapped in that section of the wreckage, Kingery said.

The front portion of the car, including the front seats, slid forward 145 feet before coming to rest, Kingery said. A 15-year-old front-seat passenger was ejected after that section of wreckage had slid 93 feet. The driver - who is a brother of the front passenger - was ejected as the front portion of the car came to rest, Kingery said.

All three boys attended Berkeley Springs High School. Kingery declined to release their names.

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