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Two women die after 16-year-old reportedly loses control

According to authorities, a 16-year-old male is at fault in the deaths of two women, ages 38 and 48. The teenager is from Sulphur, Louisiana, and was traveling out of state to compete in the National High Schools Finals Rodeo. He had been named the 2012 Louisiana High School Rodeo Reserve Champion. At the time of the accident, the 16-year-old was reportedly driving a 2003 Volvo pulling a horse trailer. Around 6:30 a.m., the vehicle drifted off the road and killed the two women who were changing a flat tire on the side of the road.

Authorities have charged the teenager with both felony and misdemeanor charges: two counts of failing to remain at the scene after an accident involving death and two counts of careless driving causing death. Reports indicate that he was taken from the scene by a 'private party' before authorities arrived.

In Colorado, the law dictates that any driver be held to the requirements of the state where that individual was licensed. In this case, the teenager was licensed in Louisiana where, according to a trooper from the state, it is legal to drive an articulated vehicle under the age of 18 if the driving is within 150 miles of a farm. It was not clear whether the teen was within 150 miles of a farm however.

According to the driver's aunt, the 16-year-old had experience driving the vehicle, which was registered as a personal vehicle rather than a commercial one. She added that he would not need a commercial license because the vehicle possessed only a single axle. A spokesperson for the Louisiana police verified this statute and added that the tractor-trailer the teen was driving can be classified as a farm vehicle.

Although there was no report on whether the family has retained the services of a criminal defense attorney, it would be a good idea since so much is at stake for this young man. A criminal defense attorney can work with the prosecutors and judge in the case to plead for leniency since the young man clearly made a mistake by being led away from the scene of the accident before authorities arrived.

In addition to the charges made against the teenager, his father received one count of misdemeanor false reporting. Apparently he indicated initially that he had been driving at the time of the accident. Both individuals were taken into custody after the accident but have since been released after posting bail - $500 for the father and $100,000 for the son.

Source: The Denver Post, "Louisiana officials investigating whether teen in double-fatal Colorado accident was driving illegally," Tom McGhee, July 16, 2012

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