As of Tuesday, July 12, 2016
WHITE BIRD “Speed was a factor,” said investigator, Idaho State Police Trooper Travis Hight, in last week’s single-vehicle crash on the White Bird grade that claimed the life of Jose L. Santos, 19, of Grangeville.
An initial crash report was expected to be completed this week; however, the full investigation into last Tuesday’s July 5 crash three miles north of White Bird on U.S. Highway 95 is expected to take several weeks, according to Hight.
Name of the 16-year-old male driver in this incident is being withheld pending investigation completion.
Whether criminal charges, if any, would be filed in the matter would be the determination of the Idaho County Prosecutor’s Office, according to Hight.
“We will be looking at whether the driver was in violation his restrictions,” Hight said, which required a licensed driver 21 or older to be in the vehicle, and that only one occupant could be younger than age 17. “The only one over 18 was the victim. The other five were all under age.”
The crash was reported at 2:50 p.m. last Tuesday. The 16-year-old driver was traveling southbound in a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer when he attempted to pass four southbound vehicles. While attempting to pass, the driver realized there were vehicles occupying the northbound lanes of travel. He then attempted to quickly return to the southbound lanes of travel when he lost control after overcorrecting.
The Chevrolet went off the road onto the southbound shoulder and rolled, coming to rest against the southbound embankment. Santos was ejected from the vehicle. Five other juvenile passengers were transported to Syringa Hospital in Grangeville. ISP was assisted on the crash by the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office.
The driver was wearing a seat belt; usage for the remaining five passengers was unconfirmed; however, initial investigation finding is the driver and front passenger were utilizing their safety restraints.
Definitely the investigation will be several weeks out, according to Hight, waiting for additional reports including from the coroner and an ISP crash reconstructionist, as well as doing follow-up interviews with the juvenile passengers.