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CHP Faults Trucker in Crash That Killed Mission Viejo Boy, Hurt Girl

The agency will recommend that the district attorney's office file a vehicular manslaughter charge against the big-rig driver.

May 15, 2003|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A trucker involved in an accident last month that killed a 16-year-old boy and injured his girlfriend as they were leaving Tesoro High School for lunch has been found at fault for the crash, CHP officials said Wednesday.

The big-rig driver, Alejandro Sanchez Martinez, 42, of Santa Ana, caused the accident when he ran a red light, California Highway Patrol Officer Chris Goodwin said. Goodwin said his office will forward a recommendation to the Orange County district attorney's office today to seek charges against Martinez.

"[Martinez] neglected to stop for the red signal, which ultimately led to this collision, and the subsequent death," CHP Officer D. Hertsch wrote in a 22-page report to the district attorney's office.

He urged that a vehicular manslaughter charge be filed against Martinez, who worked for an Irvine landscaping company and was driving a 10-wheel flatbed trailer downhill when he barreled into the Toyota Tundra driven by Cory Bailey, 16, of Mission Viejo. His girlfriend, Haley Hause, 15, of Ladera Ranch, was a passenger.

According to the report, Martinez ran a red light on Oso Parkway at 50 to 55 mph and crashed into Bailey's truck, which was turning left. The collision flipped the pickup onto its cab. Firefighters had to extricate the students from the vehicle.

Both were taken to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, where Cory was pronounced dead. Haley suffered a skull fracture and has lingering hearing problems; she is undergoing speech therapy and other treatment, her mother, Terry Hause, said. She is being home-schooled and hopes to return to Tesoro High later this year.

The CHP report said Martinez continued on Oso for another 2,400 feet before coming to a stop. Martinez holds a commercial license and certifications for driving a tank vehicle and hazardous materials. He was convicted in May and December 1999 of exceeding the weight limit on his rig, and in March 2001 and February 2002 of speeding, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The collision prompted parents and residents to seek rezoning and lowering of the speed limit from 55 mph to 25 mph at the intersection of Oso and Tesoro Creek Road, which leads to the parking lot at Tesoro High. County officials will meet in Santa Ana today to determine if the four-lane roadway will be designated a school zone.

"These big-rigs don't know it's a school zone, so they just punch it and get through even if it's a red light," said the boy's father, Randy Bailey, a teacher at Barcelona Hills Elementary School.

"If this was a school zone and the truck has to go 25 mph, nothing like this would have happened to my son."

Bailey said he will fight to prevent other children from getting hurt.

"I blame the driver because he chose to punch it to beat the red light, but I also blame whoever is responsible for not making it a school zone," he said.

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