Friday, 21 June 2024

Gang assault victim dies after car crash

LAKEPORT – A 14-year-old juvenile injured last week in a gang-related assault has died after being involved in a Friday car crash.


The young Kelseyville resident, whose name was not released by California Highway Patrol, was hit in the head with a large rock on July while walking along 11th Street with his brother, as Lake County News previously reported.


On Friday, he and three other juveniles – a 15-year-old male from Lower Lake, a 16-year-old female and a 16-year-old male, both from Kelseyville – were riding along Bell Hill Road when the collision took place. CHP Officer Josh Dye said the 14-year-old was seated in the right rear of the vehicle.


A CHP report indicated that the 15-year-old driver, who was behind the wheel of a 1989 Buick, drove through a stop sign at Renfro Drive while attempting to turn left at an unsafe speed.


The car went off the road's west edge and collided with a walnut tree, causing major damage to the front end, the CHP reported. The driver suffered bruising and small cuts, the 16-year-old male had a bruised abdomen and the 16-year-old girl had bruised ribs. The extent of the 14-year-olds injuries are under investigation.


The three teenage males fled the scene, and the girl stayed behind, claiming to be the driver and filing an accident with CHP Officer Greg Baxter, the report said.


Late Saturday, the 14-year-old and 16-year-old males went to Sutter Lakeside seeking treatment for their injuries, the CHP report stated.


Officers Kevin Domby and Mark Barnes were notified of the two teens' arrival at the hospital, and began a felony hit-and-run investigation, according to the report. During that investigation they discovered that the teenage girl hadn't been driving the car, and that the three male juveniles had been in the car as well.


At 7:45 a.m. Sunday, Domby and Barnes arrested the 15-year-old driver at his Lower Lake home, said Dye. That teen is now in Juvenile Hall, facing a felony hit-and-run charge.


In the meantime, the 14-year-old reportedly fell into a coma at Sutter Lakeside Hospital. CHP reported he died early Sunday morning.


Charges haven't yet been filed on the other teens, but Dye said they're also likely looking at charges.


Dye said alcohol isn't believed to have been involved in the collision.


Lakeport Police Chief Kevin Burke said his department is waiting for the results of the 14-year-old's autopsy, scheduled for Wednesday, in order to decide if they'll need to take a new approach to their investigation into the July 4 assault.


“At this point, we're classifying his death as an undetermined death,” said Burke.


The concern, said Burke, is whether he died of injuries specifically from the car crash, or if his death was precipitated by the assault two days earlier. “At this point it's not clear.”


If it does look like the death is related to the original assault, Lakeport Police could switch gears into a homicide investigation, said Burke.


Even without its chief witness, the case against the 16-year-old who is believed to have led the July 4 assault is going forward. “The district attorney is seeking to prosecute the 16-year-old as an adult,” said Burke, who added that decision was made Monday.


A fitness hearing on the juvenile standing trial as an adult will take place in about three weeks, Burke said, which will give officials time to have the autopsy results and determine if they have any bearing on the assault case.


Burke said his department is continuing to aggressively pursue additional leads on the attack. “We've got more people working it now,” he said, saying four Lakeport Police personnel had been assigned to the case.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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