Excessive speed appeared to be a factor in the crash


In February 2007, a serious automobile accident took place in southwest Washington. A twelve-year-old boy was at the wheel of an SUV when he lost control and struck another vehicle. According to the sheriff's office, "Excessive speed appeared to be a factor in the crash." I dunno, I think a major factor is that a twelve-year-old was behind the wheel.

Tragically, the boy sustained critical injuries and died the following day. There was an adult in the car who conveniently doesn't remember what happened, although there are rumors that this wasn't the first time that adult let the boy drive, and that the boy had remarked to a friend that "he always drove to school." Okay, what adult lets a twelve year old boy drive a car? Apparently, he was permitted to drive because he asked to.

News flash: There are times when the correct answer is "No".

Follow-up: Court documents cite witnesses who claim "the boy had driven several times, at speeds up to 80 miles an hour." It was noted in passing in May 2007 that the adult pled not guilty to vehicular manslaughter charges.

Conclusion: As part of a plea agreement, the adult was sentenced to five years in prison plus probation.

Comments (21)
  1. benjamin says:

    Nitpicker’s Corner: In several places in the United States (often accompanied by arid climates and the presence of cowboy hats), it’s pretty normal to allow children to drive vehicles and machinery. I used to drive my family’s tractor, in fact. That being said, if my parents caught me acting dangerously they’d tan my backside. :)

  2. Gene says:

    Common?  Maybe.  Smart?  Absolutely not.

  3. John says:

    Yeah, letting a 12-year old drive a SUV might seem like a bad idea.  However, it’s not quite as bad as letting a 8-year old shoot an Uzi: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27399337/

    If you really want to impress me, you’ve got to let your 4-year old shoot an Uzi while driving an SUV.  Blindfolded.

  4. Bramster says:

    There are few problems here. . .   The photograph in the "drove to school" link shows the "car that Jake drove" and the relatively undamaged SUV he ran into.

    That said, I was busted when I was 13, driving my Dad’s car with my Dad beside me.  The fine amounted to about a week’s pay for my dad.  Contrary to what the copy said, driving a car at 13 didn’t turn me into a car thief.

    Not long after, I had the opportunity to go flying in a Cessna 182.  Once aloft, the pilot offered me the controls.  I looked over my shoulder, said, "well, there don’t seem to be any cops around here. . ." and had my first experience flying.

    I did become a Pilot.  One of my joys is in offering the controls to Young Eagles.  Some 9-year olds are really quite adept at handling an airplane.

    There are responsible 12-year-olds who are ready to drive, and there are 40-year-old drivers who should only take the bus or taxis.

  5. Chris Hanson says:

    Agreed with Bramster. There are children and locations that together, are fine for a driving experience at 12. Obviously, this was not one of those juxtapositions.

  6. Pete says:

    benjamin:

    There are different laws in the United States in regard to farms and farm equipment

  7. Andrew says:

    Pete:

    In many states you can get a drivers license as early as 13, granted it takes very special circumstances.  I was just at the Nevada DMV this morning, and I believe it’s 14 here.

  8. Aaargh! says:

    Okay, what adult lets a twelve year old boy drive a car?

    Dunno, same kind of adults that lets 16 year old kids drive ?

  9. David W. says:

    ..but I had my first driving experience when I was about 9 years old, taking my mother’s Toyota Carina (awesome car!) around our garden. A few years later (around about 12), my sisters and I were regularly given lessons on a nearby all-weather football pitch.

    Consequently I got to know early how fun it is to drive, and have never had the desire to buy myself a car or actually get a real driving license. There just isn’t any exciting "ooh factor" in it. I’d say by letting me experience driving early, my mother saved our slowly dying planet from yet another wasteful gas guzzler.

  10. longneck says:

    two of the new articles are contradictory. the first one says the kid was driving a toyota SUV and hit a ford taurus. the second article says the kid was driving a ford taurus hit a toyota SUV.

  11. @David W.: Any value or insight offered in the first paragraph of your post was immediately negated by your obvious attempt to promulgate ManBearPig’s myth of Global Warming. I am also comforted by the fact that your ignorance drove you away from buying a car. At least this way you will not be clogging up the freeways by driving 55 in the left lane.

  12. Mike S. says:

    Farms and private roads don’t count, since they’re private property. Once you get on the public roads, though, you need a license. (Or a learner’s permit and appropriate adult.)

  13. John says:

    Don’t worry, steveshe; I will offset David’s reduction in emissions by buying a Hummer and leaving it in idle during the workday.  Also, I will drive 95 in the left lane and run other cars off the road.

  14. configurator says:

    Damn, when I saw the title, I was sure it would be some anecdote about a thread-related bug or something.

    That said, I think it is A Good Thing™ to let a child drive in private/farm roads when he is about 12-14. That said, it is definitely a crime to let a kid drive a car in the open road where he can cause significant damage, IMHO.

  15. Stephen says:

    Most city folks would be shocked to learn about the millions of country kids who drive on public roads without licenses; they just can’t get around any other way, since there’s no public transit out there, and their parents know the cops don’t care as long as there aren’t any accidents.

    What’s worse are the tens of millions of <i>adults</i> who drive with suspended or revoked licenses.  The local news filmed a woman walking out of a trial where her license was revoked, straight to her car where she drove home; her answer when questioned by the reporter: "How else am I supposed to get to work?"  Why should we be surprised that kids act any differently?

  16. Eugene says:

    "two of the new articles are contradictory. the first one says the kid was driving a toyota SUV and hit a ford taurus. the second article says the kid was driving a ford taurus hit a toyota SUV."

    Simple. Both cars where driven by kids. Therefore both articles are true, but they are about different kids.

  17. Ben Voigt says:

    <quote>According to the sheriff’s office, "Excessive speed appeared to be a factor in the crash." I dunno, I think a major factor is that a twelve-year-old was behind the wheel. </quote>

    I dunno, maybe the fact that the age factor was prominently listed in the title and the first sentence and the speed bit at the very end as if an afterthought both appropriately and clearly communicated which was the dominant cause.

  18. Gabe says:

    It looks like the boy *hit* an SUV; he was not driving it as implied by the beginning of the post.

    Also, one of the links indicates that the adult is of lower mental capacity. Being a reader or author of Raymond’s blog, you are probably in the 99th percentile of intelligence. It’s easy to say that you would have known better. It’s not so easy to say that this adult, who is possibly not as intelligent as the 12-year-old, should have known better.

  19. Cheong says:

    I remember the when I was a kid (that’s 15+ years ago), my uncle let me drive motorbike in village in Taiwan, in order to travel with my other cousins to play (and no, no adults are accompanying, the oldest among us was about 16). And it was not uncommon to let 10+ yrs old child drive motorbike there (when their legs grow long enough to reach the ground while sitting on it).

    IMO, a car shall provide better protection in case of traffic accident (if not overspeeding). The news doesn’t sound too ridiculous to me either.

  20. Brooks Moses says:

    Mike S.: At least in the state of Virginia, a driver’s license is not required for driving a "farm use" vehicle on the public roads for legitimate farm-use purposes.

    My neighbor’s son was driving their 5-ton trucks carting hay bales and such around the one-lane roads where we lived from about the time he was old enough to do it safely, which was probably an age of 12 or so.  (And they needed him to, when it was hay-baling time; everyone else was also driving a truck or a tractor or something.)  One of the things about being a country boy is that (a) he was well aware that safety wasn’t a joke, and (b) if he’d done anything unsafe at all, anyone within sight would have recognized him and the truck and immediately told his father, and he’d have been in a serious lick of trouble.  So, as far as I know, he was a perfectly safe driver.

    I’m fairly sure he was under strict rules like "don’t get out of first gear" and "if you see a car, pull over, stop, and wait for it to pass".

  21. Jon says:

    Let’s write this NTSB style. The probable cause of this accident was determined to be the driver’s inability to maintain directional control of the vehicle. Factors in the accident was the excessive speed of the vehicle, the unlicensed operation by a minor and the improper supervision of the adult passsenger.

    You start from the accident and work your way up the fault tree.

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