Local News

Raleigh Teen Turns Self In On Manslaughter Charges In 2001 Wreck

Posted September 12, 2003

— A teen accused in a deadly crash turned himself in to authorities Friday.

Chris Petersen, 19, was indicted Tuesday on four counts of manslaughter for the crash on Interstate 540 two years ago.

Police said Petersen was racing another car. The other driver, Bryan Reaves, lost control and crashed. The accident killed Reaves and three passengers in his car.

Petersen's attorney says his client wasn't racing.

Prosecutors failed to get Petersen indicted last month, when charges of involuntary manslaughter did not stick.

In an unprecedented move, prosecutors gathered more evidence and re-submitted the case to the grand jury with success. The grand jury indicted Petersen on four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

"It is unusual," Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden said. "But with the severity of the case -- four kids lost their lives -- it was important to go the extra step.

"It was the right thing to do to prosecute Mr. Petersen. That is what we did."

Reaves' mother, Irma, is glad they took the extra step. For two years, she has lived with the fact that people think her son was responsible for the fatal crash. But her grief outweighs her anger.

"There is something about losing a child, " she said. "He is a part of you. When he dies, a part of you dies."

For the first time, Irma Reaves is talking about the accident. She says her son was only partly to blame for what happened.

"Bryan made a tragic mistake that night," she said. "He got caught up in the moment."

Irma believes Petersen should be held responsible for his part. She said the indictment is the first step.

Furthermore, she hopes her story will help warn teenagers and their parents about the dangers of racing.

"I think he needs to be held accountable for his actions," she said of Petersen. "He knows what happened that night. I know he is scared, but I want him to tell the truth."

Petersen's attorney said his client is telling the truth.

"It is our position they were not racing," attorney Rick Gammon said. "It is an unfortunate, tragic accident."

If convicted, Petersen faces up to eight years in prison.

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