Massachusetts man charged in crash that killed two teens

Two young people are dead and another faces serious criminal charges after an automobile accident involving alcohol in Somerville, Massachusetts. The principal at the high school of the teens who were killed told reporters that the entire student body is grieving the loss of their classmates, so close to the end of the school year.

The accident occurred last Friday around 3:30 a.m. when a 21-year-old male driver lost control of his 2001 Chevrolet Malibu as he drove over a hill on McGrath Highway in Somerville.

The Somerville man had five passengers in his car, including the two 16-year-old girls who were both killed, and three male passengers between the ages of 19 and 21 who sustained only minor injuries. The three male passengers were wearing seatbelts and the two girls were not, police said.

The male passengers told police that the group had been at a house party that night, but they believed that the 21-year-old was fine to drive. However, he began driving fast and erratically and then slammed on the brakes which sent the car sideways before crashing into a barrier, one passenger said.

According to the Assistant District Attorney, police found the 21-year-old driver very distraught and hysterically screaming at the scene of the accident, admitting that he had been drinking and caused the deadly accident.

On Monday, the 21-year-old was charged with two counts of negligent motor vehicle homicide by operation under the influence of alcohol. In addition, the man was charged with operating under the influence, negligent operation, and speeding. The man pleaded not-guilty and was released from custody after he posted bail of $5,000 cash.

It is possible that the man could face a prison sentence of between 2 ½ to 15 years if he is found guilty of motor vehicle homicide. In addition to the criminal charges, the man could also face civil wrongful death lawsuits for the deaths of his two female passengers.

While the principal at the teens’ school told reporters he did not want to turn the tragedy into a “teaching moment” for his students, it does serve as a sad reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Driver in fatal crash was distraught, prosecutors say,” Milton J. Valencia, 4/26/2011.