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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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Denni November 21, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I agree with Susie, I think your comment about Obama is ridiculous, and I voted for Romney.
Denni November 21, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I meant I agree with Jennifer S.
LP November 21, 2012 at 04:42 AM
I'll never understand the comment, "there's nothing to do here, I'm so bored". I think I'll chalk it up to First Wolrd Problems. What do high school students expect to do? You are not 18, and I hate to tell them but they are still children. It's up to the judge to declare them an adult to be tried as one, but otherwise they are juveniles, and mom & dad would have to be called to pick them up. Mom & dad will be financially responsible for their stupid behavior. If you have $15 to spend on pot, go to a movie instead. Go find something age appropriate and stop trying to be an adult before your time. How boring college is going to be if you're washed up before you get there.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr November 21, 2012 at 06:37 AM
...require signatures by every student, every semester, on photographs of cancer afflicted lungs and the consequences of teenage DUI collisions, so that teenagers learn the consequences of underage smoking and underage drinking.
JT November 21, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Jerome... You need to loosen your tie. My comment had nothing to do with an opinion about how drunk driving should be prosecuted. I happen to think that it should be aggressively prosecuted. Yes, I am glad that the kids were not more seriously injured. And yes, I believe they should face consequences. Not sure why you are always on the attack...
Aleta November 21, 2012 at 04:36 PM
I'm really concerned that we are all ignoring that there were 11 DUI arrests made since last weekend. Were they all underage drivers? Doubt it. So that indicates that this isn't just a teen issue. It's a community issue. When will the adults get it? Don't drink and drive... period, at any age.
Monica November 21, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I happen to live right around the corner from the sight of this wreck. It is common at night to hear them racing down Sutro, we always hear them. There are never any Novato PD or Sheriff out here for that matter. As this wreck happened right on the County line. This area is never regularly patrolled, at least not in the 27 years I have lived here.
Novato mom November 21, 2012 at 09:46 PM
I am a mother of a teen at SMH and am also concerned about todays youth, but how do you people pass judgement so quick.....for all you know the parents were sleeping and kids stole keys.....really now anything goes.
Sven November 21, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Any reports on what was happening at the theatre on Rowland yesterday? Man and woman raising holy hell (with their kids in tow) to the point the theatre called the police. Nasty show for all the kids on Thanksgiving break.
hard working guy November 22, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I got a ticket for having a light tint on my window in Novato at 2am last week. I was returning home from work. Whats wrong with Novato Cops? Cant they spend their time setting up road blocks instead and checking for DUI instead of harassing innocent hard working people about factory window tint?
Samira Sharif November 22, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Hello, Im a child development specialist and advocate for families and strong communities. First I wanted to say that susie you have made an accurate comment, you are right about the fact that Novato does not have much to offer to teenagers of today. Fact of the matter is that teenagers of the 21st century are depressed, stressed, disconnected, discouraged and bored, more than any other era in our history. The usual activities that are promoted by mainstream people and the adults who encourage sports and competitive activities such as Mr. Burnham no longer appeals to this fragile generation. They are all great activities and hobbies, but they don't work for everyone. There is a large population of youth who have been neglected by their parents not because the parents don't care but because they have been disengaged from their children from the time of their conception, they no longer KNOW how to care for their children and engage with them. When you put your child in daycare from the time he/she is a baby because both parents have to work, this is the result! Adults, parents, teachers and older generations have all collectively played a vital role in the shaping of our society and youth of today. I have worked with many aggressive teenagers who have not found sports and afterschool programs to be engaging. The "bored" children here in Novato, the ones that keep getting labeled "bad" are the CREATIVE ones, the ones who haven't been guided or INSPIRED to find their passion
Samira Sharif November 22, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Brent, thank you for providing the links to the Novato Blue Ribbon Coalition for Youth, I have contacted them in an effort to do good for my community..Katie Keating, you are very right and I want to thank you for the work your doing, I have emailed you earlier. I will leave this discussion with one last thing to say. There is a lot of inner work that's needed inside our communities, it will take lots of creative force-field and respectful discussion to get down to the root of it, people here are not even able to talk about the various issues and address what's happening on a deeper level. How many more laws should we pass, how many more road blocks and cameras on every corner, We already live in a Police State, we're surrounded by the mentality and practice of "setting each other straight" a totalitarian practice and authoritarian point of view that ultimately fails. We are born free, we are supposed to be able and govern our-self and help those who can't, not by force or harsh words, or more new laws and less rights. We only transform people and negative patterns by reaching out to them, through heart to heart connections and by UNDERSTANDING. This is called the inner work, the base of the outer work. Novato people and the rest of Marin need to Educate their Hearts instead of judging, criticizing, blaming, taking sides, and expressing hatred to one another for differences of opinion. e,
Gram November 22, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Samira, Thank you for this beautiful post. But you must acknowledge that laws, whether municipal , county or state are intended to keep us and our communities safe and funtioning. Regarding the recent accident on Sutro, numerous basic and simple rules and laws were broken resulting in six youngsters nearly being killed! One does not have to be a genius nor have a PHD to understand the laws about underage drinking, speeding, and the other Dmv regulations this child refused to obey...like driving in the middle of the night with several other precious lives in his car!! Even the laws about pot use are not in place to restrict but to enhance quality of life for our youth. Obedience is a tough but simple virtue and it results in totally wonderful adults!
Roger November 22, 2012 at 05:31 PM
San Marin High will likely have an assembly Monday to stress the dangers of drinking and driving. I suggest the driver's mother attend and show the tears she showed yesterday in court. The boy was in trouble months earlier for an alcohol violation. The experts say it takes a significant emotional event to change basic behavior. Students seeing a mom extremely emotional hurt might strike a nerve. I understand it would take courage for her to step up like that. My son is a Junior at SMHS. This accident scares me.
Joe November 22, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Mark Burnham, Those activities may be a great use of time, but how many of those activities can a physically disabled individual participate in? I'm paralyzed from the waste down, and I noticed that I could only participate in three of your activities. I know this would not be the situation for many, but I truly find your comment ignorant. Sorry Mark, but "bird watching" does not seem very appealing for me. Educate yourself before you speak...
Mark Burnham November 23, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Joe, Thanks for reaching out. First it's "waist" down not "waste down". Secondly, I counted 15 items on my list that you could easily participate in. Another 10 of them are also within your reach if you decide to give them a try. Here is a website you might find helpful/interesting: http://www.paralympic.org/ Your post Joe is really just a waste of time. It is out of context and irrelevant to what was being discussed here. Wishing you the best.
Mark Burnham November 23, 2012 at 04:46 AM
Samira has coined the generation we are discussing "The Fragile Generation". Just making sure people read that correctly. Samira, a "self proclaimed child development specialist" states that this generation of teenagers are "depressed, stressed, disconnected, discouraged and bored." Quite a blanket statement for a "professional" to make about a whole generation. Fyi.. Samira..hiking, mountain biking, skateboarding, surfing, reading, video games, bird watching, body building, band videography, school newspaper, hop scotch, golf, yoga, poetry, babysitting, a job, rollerblading, hackey sack, volunteering.. these are a few of the activities I listed as items that are not "competitive" nor are they sports.. they are mainly considered exercises. Instead of making sweeping inaccurate statements perhaps you should list some activities or solutions that the troubled/disengaged teens you speak of would benefit from. Let's hear your proposed solution to what the city, county, state, federal government should provide for these teens who's parents have failed them.
Joe November 23, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Thanks for the spelling lesson Mark Burnham. Its very nice of you but unfortunately that was the auto correction feature on my iPhone. You should consider being a teacher, you might make a high salary than your current fast food profession. Thanks for the wonderful link, but I believe I have plenty of knowledge and experience as a para pelagic during my 5 years of experience. Please label those fifteen actives, I only see about three. Sorry Mark, but you fail and most importantly a disgrace. Your argument is irrelevant. Your claims are false and lack legitimate premises making your statement false. Did you ever take a phycology course? Considering we all pay taxes, your last question you presented for Samira is idiotic...
Joe November 23, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Higher* paraplegic*
Samira Sharif November 23, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Mr. Mark Burnham, self proclaimed ? I've dedicated the last 15 years of my life to the study of human psychology and child development. I run a children's center and scientific organization here locally in Novato, a former teacher and director with over a decade of experience in teaching. What you claim to be inaccurate, is a narrow point of view that doesn't clearly see the changes in human development and this generation of children. If you go out and talk to some of the youth of today, if you had some hands-on work experience in the field of child development, you would know that educators and professional experts in the field ALL agree on one thing; that the children are far more stressed and depressed, I would be more than glad to provide some links to these numbers if you're interested. Question is does it really make any difference to people like you who won't even know what to do with that information and how to apply it to the solution. You probably haven't even heard of the newest disorder that's sweeping through the nation " Nature Deficit Disorder" amongst other disorders that has resulted in the heavy medication(anti depressants) of young youth and teenagers. These are FACTS, Statistics and long-term studies and research which shows significant changes in the way children think and process their thoughts (cognitive and emotional development) I have shared my solutions with the public and will continue to do what I can to help my community, What will you do?
Samira Sharif November 23, 2012 at 11:55 PM
>> Mr. Gram I thank you for joining the conversation and appreciate your compliment. However you have misunderstood the point I was trying to make which is that no matter how many more laws are put into place, it doesn't really get to the root of the problem. How do I know this? simply because during some adolescent years of my life, I was forced to go to Iran and abide by Islamic rules and fear-based mentality. All alcohol is illegal there (after the change of regime and revolution it became illegal), and if you get caught you are severely punished, lashed and imprisoned. Does any of this make a difference to the curious teen who wants to have fun and is under peer pressure, or the one who feel's socially out casted and rejected from the world, what about the teenager who was abused during childhood, or the one that's bullied and looks to drugs and alcohol to escape. These problems are real problems that adolescents face and we can't just go about locking up everyone and tightening the laws thinking it's gonna keep us safe. The questions we should be asking is why do teens feel the need to drink? what are teenagers today facing? what are some of their fears that push them to this behavior? what can we do to positively encourage them to change these patterns instead of using another fear tactic. Obedience teaches children to obey and do whatever is told to them. I teach my students and my own son to rely on their own sense and value of morality, discernment and conscious.
Mark Burnham November 24, 2012 at 02:22 AM
For Joe: archery, reading, video games, upper body building, bird watching, band, videography, debate team, school newspaper, yoga, poetry, pilates, babysitting, a job, volunteering. Here are the 15 you requested. Which 3 were the only ones you thought you could do?
Anne Lane November 25, 2012 at 04:03 AM
This happened right down the street from me. They need to notify drivers that Sutro ends before you get to the end. This is the 4th accident at this exact same location that I know of. There's a reflective "STOP" notification on the road a block or so before the San Carlos intersection at San Marin, they should put one here, too.
jam November 25, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Anne, a "stop notification" wouldn't have made any difference. The driver was under the influence and would have plowed through it anyway.
Milt H. November 26, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Hi, My name is Milt and I first of all give thanks to God that all of these students are alive and doing well. My prayers are with each of them and their families. We have an incredible youth group for middle school and high school students every Wednesday from 6:30pm - 8:30pm. The middle school students (6th-8th) and high school students meet separately. Both programs have a live music, relevant inspirational message, time of connecting with friends, and of course they have fun. Here are a number of topics we cover: - Self esteeem - Indentity - Direction/Purpose - Peer Pressure - Bullying - Relationships: Family, Friends We love serving our community and your children! Learn more here: http://visitnewlife.org/ministries/student-ministries/
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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