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SUV Full of Teens Crashes; Driver, 17, Faces DUI Charges

Two kids require hospitalization after wreck at Sutro and Vineyard on city's west side.

A 17-year-old Novato boy who admitted to taking shots of alcohol and smoking marijuana faces a three felony charges following a wreck in a western Novato neighborhood early Tuesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The boy was driving with five passengers southbound on Sutro Avenue between 60 and 80 mph — in a 25 mph residential zone — when he came to the dead end at Vineyard Road and could not stop, Officer Eric Hohmeister said. The boy's 2007 Mitsubishi Endeavor crashed through a fire hydrant and a tree before coming to rest in a creekbed, he said.

Most of the occupants — three boys and three girls, all 17 and all from Novato — had various injuries. A girl in the back seat was most seriously injured, with a broken jaw, cuts and dislodged teeth, Hohmeister said. She and another girl, who complained of hip pain, were transported to Novato Community Hospital by paramedics from the Novato Fire District. A boy who was in the front passenger seat suffered cuts, one of which required sutures to close up.

CHP investigators said the boy admitted to having smoked marijuana just prior to getting behind the wheel. He also said he had taken two shots of an alcoholic drink but did not specify to the investigator what it was, Hohmeister said.

The boy, whose name will not be released because he is a minor, faces two charges of felony DUI causing great bodily harm and one of felony reckless driving. He was in violation of laws that state a driver cannot be on the road between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. during his first year after obtaining a license and that he is only allowed to drive with a parent or licensed driver over the age of 25 during the first year.

Hohmeister said airbags deployed in the front two seats. The three back seat riders were wearing seatbelts but holding onto one girl who was not belted. The SUV did not roll but "ping-ponged" off the hyrdrant, a tree and a power pole, he said.

One of the investigators said he was surprised that the injuries were as minor as they were, Hohmeister said.

The car was coming from Nicasio and heading to Novato, Hohmeister
said. He did not know where the driver allegedly drank the alcohol.

The Marin CHP office made 11 DUI arrests since last weekend, Hohmeister added. "Always designate a sober driver," he said.

— Bay City News Service contributed to this story.

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ookaed November 27, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Just to point out. This isn't a forum for people to argue who is right when one of you might not know what the other can achieve being paralized, (every case is diff.) but those activities are enjoyable. Some prefer to do things that aren't even listed.
Anne Lane November 27, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Who's to say? This kid made it intact all the way from Nicasio. After 4 accidents at that same dead end location, I'm convinced it would be much safer if they posted advanced warning that the road is about to end.
Novato Native November 28, 2012 at 12:02 AM
I was a teen in Novato not too long ago, and I can attest to the fact that there is nothing to do in Novato after about 7 at night. Many of the activities listed are daytime activities and while that may occupy teens during the day, the partying happens at night. I was fortunate enough to have parents that taught me how to be responsible and I never drank while I was in high school and none of my friends were in horrific accidents, but I did have friends who drank and smoked. I give a lot of credit to my parents for my upbringing, but I also know it wasn't just their parenting that taught me how to make good decisions about drugs and alcohol. Blaming only the parents isn't right, but blaming the schools isn't right either. To find a solution, I think we need to ask the teens what would entertain them. We can speculate all day about stop signs and campaigns that demonstrate the horrors of drunk driving accidents, but in the end, only the teens know what will be their best deterrent. Perhaps asking the youth council of the Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for their perspectives on the issue will help the city implement activities, groups, or campaigns that will be an effective way to teach teenagers about drugs, alcohol, and responsibility. But to solve the problem, we need to stop fighting over whose idea is best and start acting in ways to make Novato safer and more entertaining for its teens. We obviously all want the same thing, so why not work together to make it happen?
Samira Sharif November 28, 2012 at 01:00 AM
well said Novato Native, You are very right, thank you for your input.
DD December 30, 2012 at 05:02 PM
What an ignorant stupid thing to say.

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