Teen accused of causing deadly crash arrested on felony charges

By Laura Geller - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Friends and family are remembering two Chesterfield men killed in an alleged drunk driving accident Saturday morning. There are a lot of questions about the charges filed and not filed after police say a drunk 17-year-old drove the wrong way on the Powhite Parkway and collided head-on with another car.

On Monday, after consultation with the Chesterfield County Commonwealth Attorney's Office, the 17-year-old male juvenile has been charged with two counts of aggravated involuntary manslaughter, which is a felony.  He was arrested at his residence late last night without incident and transported to the Chesterfield County Juvenile Detention Center.

Best friends Sammer Ballout and Eddie Elawar were in that car and were killed instantly. The 17-year old driver was taken to the hospital with leg injuries and charged with DUI. Many viewers have asked us why the driver was released and not arrested. We brought that question to NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin.

"Whenever anyone is charged with DUI you're released after you've slept it off during the night or if you've gone to the hospital after you've been discharged from the hospital," he said. "Release is appropriate for your usual DUI charge."

Virginia State Police gave that driver the same kind of summons one would get for speeding or reckless driving. Given that two lives were lost, many of you have also wondered why DUI is the only charge.

"The authorities are not supposed to rush to judgment and immediately charge," said Benjamin. "They're supposed to investigate before they decide what charges to bring."

State Police tell us they're consulting with the Commonwealth's Attorney on more serious charges. Benjamin says DUI manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter could be options.

"They're investigating the circumstances to determine what they can prove and what they can't prove," he said.

There are also special procedures to consider because the driver is a juvenile.

"No one in this case is going to elude justice but justice is a process," Benjamin said.

The initial court date for that DUI charge is at the end of May; that could all change if and when more serious charges are filed. That information should be released when State Police completes its investigation.

The viewing and visitation for the two victims is scheduled for Friday evening at the Woody Funeral Home on Parham Road. The families tell us they'll have a joint funeral service there Monday at 1:30 p.m.

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