California motorist convicted of manslaughter

14-year-old cyclist died after crash

A California man who ran over a 14-year-old cyclist while driving under the influence of controlled substances and after texting at the wheel was convicted of manslaughter.

Huntingon Beach resident Jeffrey Francis Woods, 22, was found guilty of one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison at his sentencing on 11 December.

According to the Orange County district attorney, Woods was driving erratically and following too close to other vehicles eastbound on Indianapolis Avenue in Huntington Beach shortly after 2pm on 29 August 2007 when the accident happened.

He had taken Vicodin and Xanax, and was sending text messages to friends attempting to illegally obtain more of the drugs. The last text he sent was one minute before the crash and read, “Need bars?”. “Bars” is a street term for Xanax.

According to court documents, Woods suddenly swerved in his pick-up truck over several lanes into oncoming traffic, crossed into the bike lane on the wrong side of the road and crashed into 14-year-old cyclist Daniel Oates.

Oates, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown 200ft by the impact and landed in the road. He died from multiple blunt force injuries. Woods crashed into a palm tree, drove through a wall and came to a stop in the backyard of a nearby home.

The victim had been riding his bicycle with his best friend to pick up their class schedules for the upcoming school year. Nicknamed “Oatie”, he was a junior lifeguard.

The defence claimed during the trial that Woods suffered a seizure while driving and was unconscious at the time of the crash.

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