Teen driver faces negligent homicide charge
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston police have charged a 15-year-old boy with negligent homicide in connection with Sunday morning's fatal crash on Quarry Ridge.
After an 8 p.m. Sunday hearing in Kanawha County juvenile court, the boy was released into the custody of his parents, according to Lt. Shawn Williams of the Charleston Police Department.
The boy was driving a 2006 Lexus convertible on Quarry Ridge Road in the hills above Kanawha City at about 11 a.m. Sunday when he apparently lost control of the car, hit a pole and a tree and rolled over the hillside. A 14-year-old boy riding in the car was thrown from the car and died of his injuries.
Police are not releasing the names of the victim or the driver, but friends have identified the victim as Drew Morton, a freshman at George Washington High School. Friends held a candlelight vigil for Morton on the football field at George Washington on Sunday evening.
Multiple sources, including friends and family, have identified the 15-year-old driver as Reed Deer, also a freshman at George Washington High. Both he and Morton were members of the George Washington football team.
Williams said the driver of the Lexus was wearing a seatbelt, but the passenger - Morton -- was not.
"This is a textbook case of why seatbelts should be used," Williams said. "The driver was unscathed. I firmly believe that if the other boy had been wearing a seatbelt he would still be with us."
Williams said the boy driving the car had a learner's permit, but was in violation of some of the restrictions placed on 15-year-old drivers. "It comes down to the fact that he should not have been driving," Williams said.
Williams doesn't think the boy's parents knew he had the car at the time of the accident. He said Monday he does not expect any charges against the parents. Reed Deer is the son of Dr. Timothy Deer, a Charleston anesthesiologist, and Melissa Deer.
The boy was charged with a single misdemeanor count of negligent homicide, Williams said. He said police do not believe the boy had been drinking prior to the accident, but charges could be upgraded if blood tests reveal the boy was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.
The accident remains under investigation.
Reach Rusty Marks at email@example.com or 304-348-1215.