Fatal crash probe turns to adults

August 11, 2003 11:00 pm

By MIKE MORRIS

Criminal charges might be filed against adults suspected of serving alcohol last week to two Angels Camp teenagers involved in a single-vehicle crash that left one dead.

Passenger George Langston, 19, died several hours after the 11:20 p.m. wreck on Aug. 5 near Vallecito. The 17-year-old driver, who is accused of drunken driving and speeding, suffered moderate injuries.

Both had been at a birthday party in Murphys where adults had purchased a keg of beer shortly before the crash, sheriffs officials said.

"It just goes to show: People make decisions in life that they need to take personal responsibility for," Calaveras County Sheriffs Capt. Mike Walker said. "There are consequences for all of our decisions."

Walker said the case has been sent to the Calaveras County District Attorneys Office for review. Investigators are asking prosecutors to consider charges of contributing to the delinquency of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors. They list more than one adult suspect, Walker said.

Normally, it takes about a week to review a case, this one could take less time because Walker has already been in contact with Calaveras County District Attorney Jeffrey Tuttle. With no charges filed as of late yesterday, Tuttle would not comment on the case.

California Highway Patrol Officer Jan Moon said last week that charges relating to Langston's death might be filed against the driver, who turns 18 at the end of the month.

"It is my understanding that charges will be brought forward," Moon said. "They'll probably be for manslaughter."

Tuesday night

According to a lengthy press release the Sheriffs Office issued yesterday, a deputy arrived at 225 Pennsylvania Gulch Road, across from Michelson Elementary School in Murphys, at 10:55 p.m. Aug. 5 because of a report of a disturbance between a man and a woman.

He found no disturbance, but a small party. The 29-year-old woman throwing the party at her house allowed the officer in, the press release stated.

The deputy saw 15 to 20 young adults in the back yard. He also saw a keg of beer in a plastic tub sitting on the deck, and began questioning those in attendance if they were 21 years old.

About the same time, the release states, a sheriffs dispatcher contacted the officer and sent him to Arnold, where a woman believed an intruder was trying to enter her home.

Other county patrol units were involved with a West Point burglary, so the deputy had to go. Before leaving, the partys hostess admitted that she had allowed under-age people to drink alcohol in her home, the officer reported.

She also said anyone who had been drinking could stay at her home because it has four bedrooms. There were designated drivers, and the deputy was assured that no one would leave drunk, according to the release.

But while the officer was responding to the Arnold call, Langston and the 17-year-old left the party. They drove west on Highway 4 in a 1984 Chevrolet truck.

CHP reports indicate the 17-year-old lost control of the truck, overcorrected and ended up driving along the shoulder of the road before striking an oak tree east of Batten Road. The vehicle rolled several times, ejecting Langston, who was not wearing a seat belt, the CHP said.

Both teenagers were airlifted to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. Moon said she believes the driver was still hospitalized at the end of last week. An update on his condition was not available this morning.

I understand that he has a long recovery ahead, Moon said.

The deputy returned to the party at 11:50 p.m. after the Arnold intruder invasion turned out to be unfounded. The partys hostess began to cry when she learned Langston and the 17-year-old were involved in an accident, the release states.

The officer was again called to Arnold to check out a report of domestic fighting.

The case was then turned over to a sheriffs investigator, who interviewed the partys attendees the following day. He also collected a sales receipt for the keg of beer, which the 29-year-old woman admitted to purchasing.

Contact Mike Morris at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it