Torrey Pines Student to Be Charged as Juvenile

Five people were in Mazda when it crashed early on Sunday

By Paul Krueger, Eric S. Page and Tony Shin
|  Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009  |  Updated 4:01 PM PDT
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Crash Victims, Driver All From Same School

The Mazda was totaled in the crash.

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Teen Held After Deadly Crash Won't Be Charged as Adult

UPDATED: Prosecutors say a teenager who was driving a car that crashed in Rancho Santa Fe, killing a Torrey Pines High classmate, will not be charged as an adult.

Friends, Family Mourn Teen Killed in Crash

His fellow students are grieving after a 17-year-old Torrey Pines High School student died in a crash over the weekend.
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Prosecutors say a teenager who was driving a car that crashed in Rancho Santa Fe, killing a Torrey Pines High classmate, will not be charged as an adult.

Alex Capozza, 17, was killed in the crash early on Sunday morning when the Mazda he was riding in rolled over several times.

The suspect will instead face a juvenile court hearing on two felony counts. On Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol asked prosecutors to charge the driver with gross vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI.

Those charges will be handled in juvenile court, so the driver, who is 17, too, will not faces years in state prison if convicted. One legal expert said that will make a big difference for the suspect.

"I mean, it's the difference between having a chance at rehabilitation and your life, and being sent to state prison, which is a total hellhole," said attorney and legal analyst Michael Crowley.

Another teen, Jaime Arnold, also 17, was badly injured in the crash and remains hospitalized.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving spokeswoman said the accident is a reminder for parents to talk with their children about the dangers of underaged drinking.

The suspect is expected to be in juvenile court on Wednesday.

For the first time, the victim's family is talking about the crash.  Laure Capozza, the victim's aunt, said Alex's parents are devastated by the death of their son.

"There's a lot of family that's pulled together right now, they're being as supportive as possible to Alex's parents who are going through the worst thing anybody could ever go through," Laure Capozza said.

She's hoping the crash will help teens understand why no one should ever drink and drive, and why everyone should always wear seatbelts.  Investigators said Alex was not wearing a seatbelt.

"The best we can hope for is that other parents don't have to go through what his parents are going through right now."

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