Local

11-Year-Old Driver Causes Fatal Crash

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Honda Civic carrying four people ran a stop sign and collided with another car. Three people in the Civic were killed, including the driver who was only 11-years-old. It happened Tuesday night at the intersection of Avenue 168 and Road 152 near Woodville in Tulare County.

Investigators are still trying to answer the question everyone is asking-- how did an 11-year-old boy get behind the wheel of a car, with his mom and younger sister in the backseat. All three were killed when they ran a stop sign and a pickup truck, driving south down Road 152 crashed into them.

Grief counselors were on hand at Woodville Elementary School for two young children killed in a car accident Tuesday night.

Superintendent Dondreia Bradley said 7-year-old Elizabeth and 11-year-Old Jose Silva Covarrubias were excellent students and loved school. "Wonderful students, engaging, proficient, loved learning, just liked by everyone"

Bradley said she's saddened and in disbelief that sixth grader Jose was apparently behind the wheel. "If it is true it's stunning and it's shocking because knowing the mother as I knew her ... she was a very responsible, very involved woman," said Bradley.

The California Highway Patrol said at around 7:25 Tuesday night, 11-year-old Jose ran a stop sign as he was traveling on Ave 168 at Road 152 near Woodville.

A Porterville man in a Ford pickup hit the car, killing Jose and his sister Elizabeth and mother Maria who were in the backseat.

34-year-old Froylon Gonzalez-- in the front passenger seat-- was airlifted to Central Valley Regional Medical Center with major injuries.

Investigators are baffled as to why Jose was driving the car in the first place.

CHP Officer Stefanie Buck said, "That's the question everybody has is why was the 11-year-old driving. We're still investigating that obviously we have one person to talk to and as soon as we can try to get some answers from him we'll have answers for everybody else."

Buck said Elizabeth and her mother were not wearing a seatbelt when the crash happened and both were ejected from the car. "This could have been a little less of a tragedy had they been seat-belted in. I just want to remind people to take the two seconds it takes to buckle up."

The passenger still in critical condition ... the driver of pickup truck walked away from the accident. CHP still doesn't know what-- if any-- charges they'll file in this accident. They're still waiting to talk to the only survivor from the car carrying the family.

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woodville, tulare county, local, gene haagenson
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