A 19-year-old Indio man facing vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges in a crash that killed a friend refused to allow two other friends concerned about his driving ability that night to get behind the wheel of his Jeep, according to court documents obtained Wednesday.
Derren Gary Teran was charged Dec. 23 with one count of DUI vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and two counts of DUI causing injury for the
March 3, 2013, crash that killed 18-year-old Victor Regalado Jr. of Indio.
Prosecutors allege Teran's blood alcohol was about twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.
Regalado was thrown from the Jeep when it struck a curb and overturned at Adams Street and Avenue 40 in Indio, and died about 40 minutes later at JFK Memorial Hospital. Two girls riding in the Jeep were hurt, according to court documents.
Teran, who was arrested and posted a $90,000 bond on Dec. 30, is scheduled to be arraigned March 4, according to court records. He was taken into custody and interviewed by police at the time of the crash, but was not booked because the investigation was pending, defense attorney John Patrick Dolan said.
Riverside County District Attorney's Office spokesman John Hall said he didn't know why it took until December to file charges, but often in DUI cases ``there can be a delay in getting forensic test results back before we can determine the most accurate charges to file based on that evidence.''
According to a declaration filed in support of an arrest warrant, Teran and Regalado met friends at a Circle K convenience store on Monroe Street in Indio, and one friend ``believed Derren was impaired and offered to drive the Jeep. Derren declined.''
Teran, Regalado and two girls got into the Jeep, while other friends got into another vehicle. One of the girls ``also asked Derren to allow her to drive the Jeep and his response was, `Nah.' ... (She) described Derren's driving actions to be, `Crazy,''' according to the declaration.
Teran started driving around Indio, at one point swerving into opposing lanes on Varner Road. The speedometer reached 70 mph, and one of the girls
``repeatedly told Derren to slow down and his response each time was, `No, I'm the best drunk driver,''' the declaration stated.
Near the Avenue 40 intersection, one of the girls heard Teran say ``Unicorn,'' and the Jeep zigzagged, struck a curb and overturned, ejecting Regalado, according to the court document. The declaration describes ``Unicorn'' as a driving game during which, when someone says ``unicorn,'' a driver must swerve to avoid striking an imaginary object.
At the scene, Teran allegedly told a police officer that he drank four or five alcoholic beverages before the crash, and his blood alcohol level tested at .15 percent, according to the declaration.
Dolan said Teran and Regalado were good friends who played youth sports together. At the time of the crash, Teran was an 18-year-old La Quinta High School student; Regalado went to Shadow Hills High School in Indio.
Dolan said Teran withdrew from school, was very remorseful about the crash and has been willing to take responsibility. Dolan said the maximum sentence if Teran is convicted as charged is 10 years because of the gross negligence allegation; otherwise it could be four years.
He said the issue will not be who's responsible, but whether the appropriate charges were filed.
``It's overcharged ... it shouldn't be gross negligence,'' Dolan said.