Craig Fiegener, James Wulff
CHP Officer Darren Meyer says a crash outside Hemet High School that injured several students was not due to faulty brakes, as witnesses said the 18-year-old driver and his passengers alleged at the time. Craig Fiegener reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on June 4, 2012.
A mechanical problem did not cause a pickup truck to plow into a crowded crosswalk last week outside Hemet High School, injuring several students days before graduation, officials said Monday.
"This incident is not an accident," said California Highway Patrol Officer Darren Meyer. "It's a collision. It's an avoidable act."
David Carrillo, an 18-year-old junior at the school, had his driver's license for little more than two weeks when he drove his 1994 Ford Ranger through a crosswalk outside of the school on May 30.
"The guy said that his brakes didn't work and that the passenger was screaming -- like three seconds before they got hit -- that the brakes didn't work, to get out of the way," student Hayllie Cunningham said at the time.
Drugs and alcohol were ruled out as possible factors in the crash, but CHP impounded the truck for a mechical inspection.
"Based on the evidence we have, videotape and witness statements, we put his speed in excess of 50 miles an hour in a school zone," Meyer said.
Eight students were hospitalized. All but one student, Helen Richardson, have been released.
"I spoke with her mother this morning," Meyer said. "She indicates that, although she remains in serious condition, the Riverside Regional Hospital staff indicates that her prognosis is good, and she's making progress."
CHP investigators are working with the Riverside County DA, and charges are expected to be filed against Carrillo this week.