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Teen driver charged in fatal wreck near Panther Creek High School

Posted September 25, 2014

Spencer Saunders, left, and Laura Yost (Source: Spencer Saunders Twitter)
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— Police said Thursday that the teen driver in a wreck that killed a Panther Creek High School sophomore has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.

The announcement comes two days after Laura Yost, 15, of Morrisville, died of injuries she suffered in the Sept. 16 wreck in which she was seated in the backseat of a Chevrolet Blazer when a dump truck hit it.

Yost's 16-year-old brother, who was in the front passenger seat, was also injured.

Cary police say the driver, Spencer Saunders, 16, of Morrisville, rushed through a safety light around 7 a.m. and failed to yield the right of way when he turned left from N.C. Highway 55 onto McCrimmon Parkway near the high school.

A misdemeanor death by motor vehicle charge is a Class A1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum punishment of up to 150 days in jail.

Saunders, who was close friends with Yost, has expressed remorse about the collision.

On Tuesday, he posted a message on Twitter reading, in part:

"This truly breaks my heart. I'm so sorry this happened, please forgive me."

Yost's funeral has been planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, at 804 High House Road, Cary.

The family will receive friends from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Apex Funeral Home, at 550 W. Williams St., Apex.


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  • jessicaddy Sep 26, 2014

    This is such a sad story, and unfortunately, it is the kind we hear of far too often. I still can't understand why the driving age has not been changed to 18. It may be that it's inconvenient for parents, but since when is convenience more important than public safety? I didn't get my license until I was 18; not because I never took driver's ed or anything but because I needed corrective lenses. As much as I hated that at the time, I realize now that it probably saved my life. When I was 16 and in high school, I was invincible and careless just like most 16 year olds. I hate admitting that now because you could have never convinced me of it at the time. The realization of danger and risk comes with maturity, and most 16 years old do not have that. You can't damage your lungs with cigarettes until you're 18, but you can operate a death machine on wheels and risk your own life, the lives of anyone in the vehicle and those in your path at the age of 16? Huh?

  • mekanik911 Sep 26, 2014

    Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Lord have Mercy on both of these families!!!!

  • btneast Sep 26, 2014

    He deserves 0 days in Jail. This was a tragic accident, and ruining another life serves no purpose. We cannot punish him more than he is punishing himself But that's not how the law works my friend. Keep in mind this is just a charge at this point....the judge has some leeway in how to handle it once it gets to court. You folks need to separate the driver's intent from his culpability. Of course he didn't intend to have a wreck or hurt the young lady, and of course he is filled with remorse.....but that does not release him from the fact that he was in fact at fault, and there are legal ramifications as a result. One major issue is insurance responsibility that the charges help clarify.

  • btneast Sep 26, 2014

    Cary should charge itself with not fixing the intersection. There's nothing to change. He turned in front of a dump truck when he shouldn't have....pure and simple. All of the changes in the world will not stop driver error.

  • btneast Sep 26, 2014

    Oh and the system in place to train the Kids...a straight up JokeThe "system" to train kids to drive should be hours and hours of drive time with the parents in the car. Its foolish to expect a few weeks of a class and a few hours of driving time to properly train a young driver. Its only intended to familiarize someone with basic vehicle driving. If you expect your child to be a good driver after nothing but drivers ed. classes, you are being foolish.

  • btneast Sep 26, 2014

    Charging him with a crime, no matter how light that charge is, will do nothing to help. If the city or county really want to help, make appropriate changes to the light cycles, of this intersection His being charged isn't an attempt by the authorities to "help" anyone. He is being charged as a result of his illegal actions that caused a death.

  • Anne Walker Sep 26, 2014
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    View quoted thread

    Thank you for raising a young man with so much compassion and thoughtfulness. Directly and indirectly, who he is will help heal the hurt left after this young woman's death.

  • btneast Sep 26, 2014

    poor kid, it is an accident...emphasis on accident There is really no such thing as an accident....there is always a cause....in this case, he "rushed" through a safety light when he shouldn't have. Another words, it was not clear to pull out.

  • Red Green Sep 26, 2014

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    Consider telling a teenager he/she can use these roads here, but oh no no, you stay off of this one road here. You’ll need to park at the shopping center and walk the rest of the way to school, I don’t know but it sounds rather fatuous to me. These parents exercised no poor judgment whatsoever and bear no culpability in this tragic accident.

  • shd-be-doing-something-else Sep 26, 2014

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    Oh please. While tragic, it is not poor judgement on the parent's part. All they did was allow their son drive to school, the same decision that parents across the country make each and every day. To even suggest such a thing is ridiculous.