BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - An Oroville man plead guilty to three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter that killed two adults and a 2-year-old in an April street racing crash, according to Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey.
A 4-year-old who was also in the car was seriously maimed but survived.
The charges stemmed from an incident in late April of this year when a Jeep Grand Cherokee engaged in a high-speed race down Lincoln Blvd. in south Oroville.
The case is legally unusual in that Carlos Lee Hill, Jr., 20, of Oroville, plead guilty to causing the deaths of the three persons in the rival car even though he did not hit or touch the other car, Ramsey said.
Hill pleaded guilty in Butte County Superior County to three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and a charge of street racing causing serious injury or death,
Hill was alone in his Camaro, but the Jeep contained two adult males in the front seat and two young girls, who were unrestrained in the rear seat.
Ramsey said that around noon on April 29, calls started coming in about a street race with a vehicle that had crashed off the road at Lincoln Blvd. and Baggett-Marysville Rd.
Upon arrival, first responders encountered a chaotic scene with debris, downed power poles with live wires, and a completely destroyed Jeep SUV, Ramsey said.
First responders also encountered multiple victims who were severely injured.
The two adult victims were pronounced dead at the scene, and the two-year-old was rushed to Oroville Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Hill had stopped his vehicle down the street and returned to see the destruction, but then fled the area, Ramsey said.
The four-year-old was taken by helicopter to UC Davis where doctors and nurses were able to save her life.
Ramsey said she is recovering well from her very serious injuries.
Over the following weeks and months, CHP officers and a prosecutor from Ramsey’s office conducted an extensive investigation to piece together what led up to the fatal crash, Ramsey said.
They located nearby surveillance cameras, witnesses, and physical evidence. Specialized officers and engineers with the CHP’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) assisted in the investigation and ultimately determined the Jeep was traveling between 106 to 110 mph at the time of the crash.
The speed limit for that road is between 35 to 45mph, according to Ramsey.
Ramsey said that although Hill’s car did not strike the Jeep that crashed, Hill was legally responsible for the deaths and injuries to other drivers and passengers.
The law provides that one is legally responsible where their reckless actions play a major part in causing the death of another person, Ramsey said.
The deaths and injuries caused by the crash hit the close-knit community in south Oroville particularly hard, as many residents knew the victims and their families personally, Ramsey added.
Residents told the office that Hill was a known street racer in the area and felt that it was only a matter of time until a tragedy would occur.
Many people reported Hill’s actions to authorities, but he would be gone by the time they arrived.
Ramsey said his office and the CHP pushed the case’s unusual legal theory to send the message that dangerous street racing is not tolerated in Butte County.
Hill’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29. He faces a sentence of nine years and four months in state prison.