Teen-age driver granted 
probation in drag-racing death

Source: Union Tribune
Author: Leslie Wolf
Date: 1999/02/12

San Diego, CA - Teen-age driver granted probation in drag-racing death 

Illegal drag racing cost Randolph Oliver his life.

But, because Oliver's family did not want the youth responsible to go to
jail, the 18-year-old driver whose vehicle struck and killed the plumber's
apprentice during a race near Chula Vista's waterfront will instead do
community service and be on probation for six months.

"It was a tragic accident, especially since both the parties involved were
friends," Stephen Hoffman, the driver's lawyer, said after yesterday's
sentencing hearing.The defendant, who was 17 at the time of the Sept. 12 tragedy, was tried as a juvenile on a charge of felonious vehicular manslaughter, which required a finding of gross negligence. Juvenile Court Referee Maria Arroyo Prokop
acquitted the Castle Park High School senior of the felony but convicted
him of misdemeanor manslaughter.

Hoffman said that the speed limit where the accident occurred is 40 mph and
that evidence showed that his client was driving only about 10 mph over
that. The pickup driver had just completed a race and was heading back to
the starting line when Oliver, 20, was hit.

Prosecutor Bill Collins said after the hearing that the families of the
youths had been in touch throughout the case and that Oliver's family did
not want to see the driver go to jail. The defendant had been allowed to
remain free on his own recognizance since shortly after his arrest.

Oliver was killed while acting as flag man for the drag races that used to
take place regularly in an industrial area on Bay Boulevard.

Oliver, a Castle Park graduate, loved fast cars, his family said. He died
on the roadway.

Chula Vista police were aware that drag racing was a problem on the
boulevard. The Police Department had invited the media to observe the races
the night Oliver was killed as a kickoff to the department's new program of
cracking down on street racers.

Before Oliver's death, crowds of more than 800 youths used to line Bay
Boulevard near Palomar Street to watch hundreds of cars race, police said.
Often, reports of crimes such as assault and vandalism followed the
Saturday night races.

Officer Phil Collum, who initiated the crackdown, said yesterday that
street racers no longer congregate on Bay Boulevard, although officers
still occasionally report finding "stragglers" staging races in small
groups of up to a dozen cars.

Publicity surrounding Oliver's death highlighted the department's
enforcement activities.

"That seems to have put the brakes on it," Collum said.

This does not mean that police have let up on hunting for illegal street

"If any racers are thinking of coming back here, believe me, they will be
stopped, and they stand a good chance of being arrested," Collum said.



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