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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 8:50 pm | Fog/Mist 51º


Santa Maria Teen Driver Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter

A teenage boy who allegedly was racing with the 17-year-old girl who died in a Friday night crash in northeast Santa Maria has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Breanna Rodriguez

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley on Tuesday confirmed the charge against the teen, who was taken into custody Saturday night.

His name wasn’t released due to his age and his case will be handled in Santa Maria Juvenile Court.

He is accused of racing with another vehicle driven by Breanna Rodriguez of Santa Maria on East Donovan Road. 

Rodriguez lost control of her vehicle, which slammed into a utility pole.

She was extricated from the wreckage and taken to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where she died. 

Two passengers, whose names weren’t released due to their ages, also were taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries. 

A female passenger suffered broken ribs and was released from the hospital the night of the accident, said Santa Maria police Sgt. Mark Streker.

A male passenger had a broken leg and remained in the hospital, Streker said Tuesday.

The 17-year-old male driver in the other vehicle briefly stopped but left the scene of the accident, police said. He had three passengers in his vehicle, according to Streker. 

Although the two vehicles did not collide with each other, the law requires all involved parties to remain at the scene, police said. 

Both Rodriguez and the boy had regular driver's licenses, so they were allowed to have passengers in their vehicles, Streker said. New teen drivers are issued provisional licenses that restrict who can be in the car without an adult present for a year or until they turn 18.

Police blamed the crash on racing involving Rodriguez and the 17-year-old male driver, both of whom apparently were traveling at “excessive speeds.” Streker estimated the teens were traveling more than 60 mph, well above the 35 mph limit.

Rodriguez also reportedly sped through the nearby Suey Crossing Road intersection without stopping for the stop sign, police said.

However, Streker emphasized the case didn’t involve a street race planned ahead with spectators on the sidelines. 

“This is not your typical street race," Streker said, noting her Ford Focus is not the "car of choice” among street racers.

Instead, he said, the drivers had been at a basketball game at Pioneer Valley High School and apparently had an impromptu race while leaving the area.

“It was a bad, impulsive decision,” Streker said. 

Teens are mourning the Righetti High School senior’s death on Santa Maria Valley campuses, as well as on social media, using, for instance, hashtags of #RIPbreetheG and #ripbree.

A celebration of life is planned for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Pacific Christian Center, 3435 Santa Maria Way in Orcutt, with a reception to follow immediately after, according to a post on the Facebook page of her church, Full Gospel Tabernacle of Nipomo.

Streker said he hopes the tragedy makes other teenagers realize the horrific consequences that can happen with one bad decision behind the wheel. 

He added that the Police Department is working with schools in hopes of creating a community traffic presentation to warn against impulsive decisions while driving so something productive comes out of the tragedy.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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