Chana, Maidu students involved in Friday night crash

Two of occupants in critical condition
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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One Chana and one Maidu high school student remain hospitalized with major injuries following a Friday night vehicle accident. A 17-year-old male Chana High School student was reportedly driving a 1998 Toyota Corolla while under the influence of alcohol at about 8:30 p.m. on Mt Vernon Road in Auburn when the car left the road and hit a tree, according to California Highway Patrol spokeswoman Kelly Baraga. The 17-year-old was life-flighted to Sutter Roseville Hospital. Two other passengers in the car were also transported to area hospitals with major injuries. A 16-year-old male Maidu High School student was life-flighted to Mercy San Juan Medical Center. On Monday, he was listed in critical condition in the trauma intensive care unit, according to spokesman Bryan Gardner. The names of the minors are being withheld because of possible pending juvenile charges, Baraga said. While the investigation is not complete, the preliminary report states alcohol was involved, Baraga added. “If you’re underage, you can have no measurable amount of alcohol in your system,” Baraga said. On Monday, Baraga reported that the 17-year-old male was recovering from surgery and was said to have brain swelling. The 16-year-old passenger was reported to be in the Intensive Care Unit with “extensive head trauma,” Baraga said. The accident comes about a week after both schools held their first Every 15 minutes program. The nationwide program aims to educate teens about real-life risks, including the impacts of alcohol-related accidents. On Nov. 12, at a schoolwide assembly, students and local emergency personnel simulated a fatal vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver. Kathleen Sutphen, Chana and Maidu high schools’ principal, said that when students return from their Thanksgiving break, she expects that teachers will talk to them about the accident. “Knowing that we’re coming out of that event last week and now this accident has occurred, I’m sure some students are very disturbed about that,” Sutphen said. Sutphen said she is familiar with both teenagers involved in the accident. She described them as “very nice boys. They are likable, pleasant, polite young men. It’s particularly upsetting.” She added that she has tried, unsuccessfully, to contact their families. “We’re very concerned about them,” Sutphen said. The third passenger, 29-year-old Heather Richey, was recovering at Sutter Roseville Hospital and is being treated for a lacerated spleen and liver and a concussion, Baraga said. Richey was reported to be the right-front-seat passenger. Baraga said officers reported that Richey and the driver were wearing seatbelts, but did not know if the third passenger was restrained. The speed of the vehicle at the time of the accident is also unknown at this time, Baraga said. The trio was reportedly at a friend’s house in Colfax where there were “a bunch of high school kids,” according to a statement officers received from Richey, Baraga said. The house address or owner were not listed in the report, Baraga said. Richey told officers they were driving to the Colfax market and then to Auburn to pick up a friend or a cousin. “Anytime that we have teens involved in a crash like this it really makes us take notice especially as parents and law enforcement that we really need to stress that any amount of alcohol is too much alcohol for teens to be consuming,” Baraga said. “If you’re under the age of 21, there is no tolerance for alcohol.” Anyone with information about the accident is encouraged to contact the Journal’s Jenifer Gee. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment.