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Local News

Teen Facing Manslaughter Charge in Fatal Crash

A teenage boy who was at the wheel of a pickup truck that crashed over the weekend, killing a 19-year-old Santa Ynez woman, is facing felony manslaughter and other charges, the California Highway Patrol said Tuesday.

The 16-year-old, whose name has not been released because he is a minor, is accused in the death of Charlotte Rose McNeil Maclean, 19, said CHP Sgt. Daniel Barba.

Maclean was killed Saturday when she was thrown from the bed of a pick-up truck on a rural road near Solvang.

Five other people were seriously injured in the crash, which occurred shortly before 7 p.m. on Ballard Canyon Road north of Chalk Hill Road.

Investigators were still trying to determine how fast the vehicle was traveling, Barba said, "but statements of witnesses put it very fast, over freeway speeds."

The 16-year-old driver and two passengers were inside the cab of the 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup, the CHP said, and three other passengers were riding in the open rear bed, without seat belts or passenger restraints.

The injured included Ashley Cash, 18, of Santa Ynez, and Cody Epley, 18, of Lompoc, the CHP said. Both suffered moderate injuries.

The driver, a Solvang resident, also was hospitalized with moderate injuries, as were a 15-year-old Solvang boy and a 14-year-old Buellton boy whose names were withheld.

The teen driver is facing felony charges of gross vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving producing injury or death, as well as driving on a suspended license, Barba said.

The latter charge implies the teen already had had legal troubles behind the wheel.

"You have to do something to get suspended," Barba noted.

"So many things were done wrong," Barba said, pointing out that Ballard Canyon is a narrow, winding road, the rear passengers had no seat belts or restraining devices, and drivers are barred from having other young people as passengers in the first year of their license.

The vehicle, a 2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup, belonged to MacLean, Barba said.

Drugs and alcohol are not believed to be a factor in the crash, Barba said.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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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