No charges in crash that killed Talent teens

The driver of a pickup that rolled Feb. 6 in Eastern Oregon, killing two Talent teenagers, was speeding and had smoked marijuana, a police report found, but he will not be charged with a crime.

An Oregon State Police report obtained this week said driver Kameron Pendleton, 18, of Medford was doing 70 mph on bare pavement on rural Highway 395 about 45 miles north of Lakeview when his truck went off the road to the right. Pendleton overcorrected to the left, rolling the 2005 Ford F-150 multiple times and ejecting two unbuckled passengers in the rear seat, the report said.

The rear passengers, Corey Keller, 17, and Zachary Roberts, 18, both of Talent, were pronounced dead at the scene. Pendleton and the front-seat passenger, Armando Manuel "Mannie" Serrano, 18, of Talent were wearing seat belts and suffered some injuries, the report said.

Police said they found a nearly full bottle of rum, a quarter bottle of gin and 11 grams of marijuana at the crash, which happened shortly after midnight as the teens were driving to Jackson Hole, Wyo., to snowboard.

Pendleton and Serrano acknowledged in statements to police that night they all had smoked marijuana, but they said they had not used alcohol. Serrano told police the four teens had smoked two bowls of marijuana about an hour before the crash, the report said.

The report, written by OSP Trooper Scott Skinner, a collision reconstructionist in Ontario, requested that Pendleton be considered for felony charges in the deaths based on violation of several laws &

failure to drive in his lane, speeding and, if supported by toxicology reports, driving under the influence of intoxicants.

But Lake County District Attorney David Schutt said he would file no criminal charges because "there's no way to prove criminally recklessness conduct except by drugs or alcohol in the system " the toxicology report showed the presence of marijuana, but not to the level of impairment."

Schutt also said OSP's toxicology report didn't show alcohol in Pendleton's system.

Schutt said motorists in such open stretches normally travel at speeds of up to 80 mph. "Their speed was 72 mph on a straight stretch &

and what it is, is a horrible tragedy."

Uilani Roberts, the mother of Zachary Roberts, said she was stunned to learn of Schutt's decision.

"This is new information," she said. "I'm shocked there will be no charges."

Schutt, however, said in an earlier interview he had come to the Rogue Valley and spoken with the victim's families. "They didn't seem angry and didn't ask that charges be filed," he said.

He said he made the trip because "it's better they find out from me than in a newspaper."

Told of Schutt's decision Thursday, Kameron Pendleton said, "That's good news."

Pendleton, now working at Howard Prairie Resort, said he's recovering well from a punctured lung and concussion and only remembers bits of the crash.

Pendleton had said he'd swerved to avoid a cow in the road, which runs through open range. But the OSP report said the vehicle only drifted slightly off the road and it was not considered an intentional evasive maneuver. Pendleton was going 15 mph over the posted limit of 55 mph.

Pendleton said because of the concussion, he doesn't remember telling police he had smoked marijuana before the crash.

Serrano's injuries, considered minor, were not available because of health information privacy laws.

Interviewed at the Harney District Hospital in Burns the day of the crash, Serrano said the Ford truck rolled seven times. It crossed the highway and landed on its passenger side about 40 yards west of the road, with its roof crushed inward.

After the crash at 12:15 a.m., Pendleton and Serrano found their friends on the ground, barely breathing, they said from the hospital. They administered CPR and called 9-1-1 on a cell phone.

The call was recorded at 12:23. Because the teens were unable to pinpoint their location, emergency service personnel didn't arrive until 1:44 a.m., the report said. Pendleton and Serrano arrived at the Harney District Hospital in Burns at 2:44 a.m.

The teens were friends at Phoenix High School and the snowboarding trip was to be a celebration of their graduation. Their deaths were grieved by many friends with whom they had skateboarded at the Talent skate park. Friends are erecting a sculpture there in remembrance of the four teens.

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