Teen pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter for deadly 2016 Hanover crash

Teen pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter for deadly 2016 Hanover crash

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - The teen accused in a deadly crash in Hanover County last year, pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter on Thursday.

Seth Fleming was behind the wheel when his car crashed on Cold Harbor Road, killing two of his friends: 17-year-old Dylan Ballard and 22-year-old Elliot Hinton.

Carl Whitmeyer, Fleming's defense attorney, said his client "wants to take full responsibility" for the deadly wreck.

Families of both victims wept in court, as Commonwealth's Attorney Steve Royalty read the evidence he would have presented had the case gone to trial as scheduled on Monday.

In court Thursday, Royalty said speed and alcohol were both factors in the crash.

According to Royalty, on April 23 2016, 18-year-old Fleming and others spent the day tailgating and drinking beer at Richmond International Raceway, before going swimming near Old Church Road, then heading to a party in a friends garage in the Rockhill area.

Royalty says it was there that Fleming and five others piled into his white Dodge Ram pick-up to make a beer run at the Valero Fas Mart on Cold Harbor Road. Security footage showed Fleming's car outside the convenience store at 10:26 p.m. Royalty said others in the truck purchased cases of beer, and at 10:33 p.m., Fleming pulled out of the parking lot.

Royalty says Fleming raced down Cold Harbor Road. Royalty said two witnesses would have testified to Fleming's truck going upwards of 70 mph.

However, Whitmeyer disputed this, saying passengers in the car said Fleming was driving closer to 55 or 60 mph.

Royalty said one witness would have testified that Fleming was driving erratically and following her very closely. She pulled off the road, and minutes later, she called 911 when she came upon the crash.

According to Royalty, Fleming's truck slammed into a tree along Cold Harbor Road around 10:35 p.m. Royalty displayed photos of tire marks from the road, onto the grass and up to the tree. He said the marks show no signs of breaking.

Photos from the scene show a bloodied Fleming trapped in the car, behind the wheel. His truck was wrapped around a tree, which sliced the front part of the vehicle in half.

Photos from the scene show the Dodge Ram pick-up had extensive damage. Beer cans littered the car and around the crash site.

Royalty says several good Samaritans, who came upon the crash, rushed to try and help. Royalty says multiple witnesses would have testified that Fleming tried to get out of the truck and kept repeating, "I can't go to jail."

Fleming also told a witness he was "wasted" and asked him to take his keys, according to Royalty.

In court, Royalty presented analysis on blood drawn from Fleming an hour after the wreck, showing his BAC to be between a .069 and .072 percent.

Defense attorney Carl Whitmeyer disputed this as well, saying Fleming's BAC was lower before the crash.

Fleming and three other passengers were seriously injured and taken to VCU. Royalty said Hinton and Ballard died "within seconds" of the crash, and both young men had blunt force head injuries, as well as compound fractures to their legs, arms and hip.

"These men didn't have to worry about going anywhere," said Royalty.

Fleming could spend up to 20 years behind bars. The sentence for each of the class 5 felonies of involuntary manslaughter is one to ten years in prison.

Fleming will be sentenced on Aug. 10.


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