Reliving the Agony of a Deadly Accident

March 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
A teenage survivor talks about the car crash that killed her best friend.The deadly crash outside the town of San Joaquin in west Fresno County killed one Tranquillity teenager Friday. Three others were hurt.

A survivor from Friday's crash is at home recovering right now. Her family has to help her move around the house because she injured her foot.

But she tells us the pain she feels from her injury is nothing compared to the pain of losing a friend.

Diana Rodriguez, crash survivor, says "My hands were all bloody. I looked down and what I saw, it was open."

Diana Rodriguez sliced her foot while trying to escape from a car that plunged into a canal.

The 14-year old and three of her friends from Tranquility were travelling south of San Joaquin to get gas Friday afternoon. A 15-year old unlicensed driver was behind the wheel.

"She like lost control because there was a lot of mud. And she lost control and like went to the side where the canal was and we went into the canal," recalls Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and two other teens managed to free themselves from the car which was upside down in the water. But her best-friend, 15-year old Celeste Lopez, was trapped for almost an hour.

Lopez was eventually rescued by sheriff's deputies but later died at Community Regional Medical Center.

Flowers from family and friends are at the crash site to remember the 15-year old that was killed. This accident is the 3rd in only 4 months all involving unlicensed teenagers driving when they shouldn't be. The three deaths all occurred in Fresno County.

In December a 15-year old boy sped through an intersection in northwest Fresno colliding with a family of 4. A 9-year old was killed. The driver faces vehicular manslaughter charges.

In late February, 4 intoxicated teens were driving outside Kerman when their vehicle flipped. Two teens in the back seat, didn't have safety belts on, were thrown from the car and died. The 17-year old driver faces two counts of vehicular manslaughter.

Rodriguez warns other teens thinking about driving before they have a license should learn from her friend's death. "Just don't drive at that age until you get your license."

Rodriguez told Action News it's common for teens under the age of 16 to be driving.

CHP investigators are considering charging the 15-year old driver with vehicular manslaughter.


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