The Cary Police Department has filed a misdemeanor charge against the teen driver involved in the crash that killed Laura Yost, a friend and fellow student at Panther Creek High School.
Spencer Kaeo Saunders, 16, was charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, carrying a maximum penalty of 150 days in jail.
Yost, 15, died Tuesday, a week after the accident. Her funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Cary.
Saunders and Yost and her brother, Ryan Yost, 16, were riding to school together in a Chevrolet Blazer on the morning of Sept. 16, according to police. The collision happened at 7:09 a.m., when the SUV turned left from N.C. 55 onto McCrimmon Parkway.
That turn took the students into the path of an oncoming dump truck, driven by Jerry Middleton of Creedmoor, according to Cary police.
Saunders told police that the traffic signal was turning yellow as he approached the intersection, according to a police crash report. He said he saw the oncoming truck but thought it would stop, the report states. The Blazer was third in a line of vehicles that made the turn in front of him, Middleton told police.
The dump truck was going between 46 and 57 mph as it approached the intersection, according to police calculations; the speed limit is 50 mph. Middleton told police that he saw the signal turn yellow but that he was too close to stop.
Middleton began to brake as he saw the SUV enter the intersection, he told police. Investigators recorded almost 90 feet of tire marks from the truck prior to the crash, and estimated it slowed by up to 20 mph before the collision.
Laura Yost, who was sitting on the right side of the back seat without a seatbelt, was trapped in the SUV, police reported. The SUV’s front-seat airbag did not deploy; it had no other airbags, police reported.
All three students were hospitalized at Duke University Medical Center. Middleton was uninjured.
Police concluded that Saunders’ “failure to yield” to the truck was “the sole contributing factor in this crash,” according to the accident report.
An apology on Twitter
Cary police consulted with the Wake County District Attorney’s Office before deciding to file the charge against Saunders, a resident of Scoggins Avenue in Morrisville.
Saunders appeared to post about the crash and Laura Yost’s death on his Twitter account on Tuesday.
“Not one minute has passed where I haven’t thought about you. Never could I ever imagine this happening,” the post read.
“We’ve grown so close to each other, we were family. I’m going to miss staying up late and watching Netflix with you ... practicing soccer with you, and just having you as my little sister.”
“… I’m so sorry this happened, please forgive me.”
Laura Yost’s obituary says she was a sophomore at Panther Creek who played on the school soccer team as No. 8 and in the Capital Area Soccer League as No. 4.
Laura Yost’s family asks that donations in her memory be sent to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Address checks to ASPCA Gift Processing Center, P.O. Box 96929, Washington, DC 20077-7127.