2 men to stand trial over 
friends death in car race

Source: Union Tribune
Author: Leslie Wolf
Date: 1998/11/25

San Diego, CA - 2 men to stand trial over friends death in car race

EL CAJON -- Two men from Spring Valley were ordered yesterday to stand
trial on charges of manslaughter because of a high-speed illegal street
race in which one of their friends was killed.

Chad Michael Haney, 20, and Robert Timothy Garsen Jr., 19, are both out of
jail on their own recognizance, living with their families as long as they
promise not to drink or drive.

But each faces a potential 10-year prison term if convicted of driving
under the influence of alcohol and vehicular manslaughter.

The accident that took the life of 20-year-old Nicholas Randy McLaughlin
happened after the friends spent a day at the beach in La Jolla, according
to testimony in a preliminary hearing in El Cajon Municipal Court.

The three and another friend, Gerald Lee Goodson, had been drinking at the
beach Sept. 13. On the way home at around 6:30 p.m., Haney, who was driving
his blue Honda Prelude with McLaughlin in the passenger seat, began racing
with Garsen's green Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Several witnesses told police afterward that they saw the two cars speeding
east on state routes 52, 125 and 94. Two witnesses said the cars appeared
to be going over 100 mph, said Highway Patrol Officer Larry Landeros.

One witness said he was driving at 65 mph when the two cars passed him
"like he was standing still," Landeros said.

Suddenly, the Honda tried to pass the Mitsubishi on the left, and went onto
the dirt of the center divider of 94 near the Sweetwater Springs Boulevard
exit, kicking up a large cloud of dust, the witnesses said.

When the dust cleared, it became apparent that both Haney and Garsen had
crashed. Two other cars also were hit in the pileup.

Haney's car crashed into a concrete abutment, killing his passenger on
impact, said Highway Patrol Officer Joseph Jones.

Christine Simon, a lifeguard, was in one of the other cars that was
sideswiped by Garsen in the collision. She testified that she helped Haney
crawl out a window of his car, which was starting to burn, but McLaughlin
was already dead.

Haney was awake but dazed when Jones got there, Jones said. Haney fell
unconscious as he was being loaded into an ambulance, and was taken to a
hospital in critical condition.

Garsen and Goodson were not as severely injured. Simon suffered whiplash
and has not been able to return to work or school since, she testified.

Though McLaughlin was a passenger in Haney's car, prosecutor Gloria Collins
said Garsen was also charged with manslaughter because it was evident that
the two were racing.

Garsen's blood-alcohol level, taken shortly after the wreck, was .05
percent, according to testimony. Haney's blood-alcohol level was .09
percent, and McLaughlin's was .07 percent.

Though .08 percent is the threshold at which a person is generally
considered to be driving drunk, the limit is .05 percent for drivers under
the legal drinking age of 21.



Questions, comments and criticisms can be directed to: Jeff