INDIO, Calif. - The attorney for an 18-year-old La Quinta High School student who was allegedly driving drunk in a crash that killed his friend in Indio said today that the young man is prepared to face legal consequences and is "broken up" about his friend's death.
Eighteen-year-old Victor Regalado Jr. of Indio was killed when he was thrown from a Jeep driven by Derren Gary Teran Jr.
The crash was reported about 4 a.m. Sunday at Adams Street and Avenue 40 in Indio, and Regalado died about 40 minutes later at JFK Memorial Hospital, according to the Riverside County Coroner's Office.
Indio police spokesman Ben Guitron said a female passenger left the scene and ended up at a hospital with minor injuries.
There could have been one or two more people in the vehicle, and detectives are still investigating the crash, Guitron said.
The driver was detained on suspicion of drunken driving and was interviewed by police, Guitron said. He and Teran's attorney, John Patrick Dolan, said the case hasn't been sent to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office yet.
Dolan said Teran and Regalado were good friends who played youth sports together, and their families know each other. There is a vigil scheduled for Regalado at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Shadow Hills High School in Indio, where he was a student.
Dolan said he was told that Regalado's family asked Teran to appear at the vigil with them.
"Derren's family reached out and met with Victor's family, they spent time together. I am advised they forgave him and said they hoped he learned a valuable life lesson. I'm told Victor's family wants Derren to appear with them at the vigil to show they are not seeking vengeance against him but forgive him and hope everyone can join with them to mourn the loss of Victor, but also . . . to show drinking and driving can have legal consequences," Dolan said.
He said Teran withdrew from school and is very remorseful about the crash.
"This is one of his good friends and he's broken up about what happened," Dolan said.
He said his client "has to stand up and face the consequences."
"It's one of those challenging cases where it's not about `whodunnit' but what's the appropriate sanction for an 18-year-old who made terrible mistake?," Dolan said. "In the end he will have to stand up before the court and take the appropriate punishment, and he's prepared to do that."
He said Teran gave a full statement to police the day of the crash and remains available to them.
He said one thing that's come up in the investigation is people reporting a series of accidents at the location of the corner.
"It's caused accidents before, so there's existing dangerous conditions and that's part of the investigation," Dolan said.
He said charges probably wouldn't be filed until the end of next week or later.
"But I don't think there's a question that charges will be filed," he said.
Teran could be charged with vehicular manslaughter with or without gross negligence, and there is a big difference between the two, Dolan said. A person convicted of the charge with gross negligence could face 10 years in prison, if without, four years, he said.
"(With gross negligence) is a much more serious sentence," Dolan said.
He said that in the end, "this is not good guys, bad guys."
"This is a tragedy and hopefully the consequences will not be so devastating as to ruin his life ... and I think we'll find the family of Victor is in support of Derren as much as his own family."
At 9 a.m. Saturday, Regalado's friends will hold a car wash at Lamppost Pizza to raise money for his family, according to the Desert Sun. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church, 52-555 Oasis St., Coachella.