Teens Sentenced in Jogger’s July 4 Traffic Death

In a plea deal, two teenage boys who admitted their roles in the July 4 death of a jogger who was struck by a vehicle on Huntington Drive have accepted indeterminate noncustodial sentences, a district attorney’s spokesman said.
Though criminal charges were resolved in Juvenile Court in Los Angeles, civil litigation over the tragedy will continue as the mother and the girlfriend of accident victim Gabriel Crispo seek damages in L.A. Superior Court in addition to compensation for Crispo’s home mortgage. Mark Hiepler, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, said in a phone interview he expects to complete depositions of the defendants by the end of January.
“Our goal in this is to prevent this sort of tragedy from happening and hold the parents and kids accountable for the loss of a vibrant life,” Hiepler said.
The two 17-year-olds, who live and attend school outside of San Marino, each pleaded guilty on Dec. 20 to felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, according to Ricardo Santiago, a media relations representative for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He said the teens are to serve in an alternative work services program, the juvenile equivalent to community labor. One will serve 60 days in this program, the other 30 days.
Additionally, both are required to complete a separate hospital and morgue volunteer program and will indefinitely remain on probation, forbidden to drive and confined to their homes from 6 p.m.-6 a.m. daily unless they are under the supervision of a parent or guardian. Santiago said juvenile cases do not have a prescribed timetable for probation and instead follow the guidance of the judge.
“It depends on the progress of each minor and whether they complete all the terms and conditions,” Santiago said in a phone interview. “It could range from months to years.”
Crispo, a 49-year-old San Gabriel man, had been running on the Huntington median near Kenilworth Avenue. At around 10:35 a.m. that day, police said, the 17-year-olds were racing down Huntington when their vehicles collided and one careened onto the median, where it fatally struck Crispo and his dog, Niño.
According to police reports at the time, the teen driving a Mercedes-Benz sedan suddenly crossed from the right-most lane to the left most and collided with the other teen, who was driving a Toyota crossover, in effect creating what a police official likened to the PIT maneuver that is used by law enforcement to stop vehicles. This caused the Mercedes to spin out of control, mount the curb and strike Crispo, police said.
The Mercedes’ momentum carried it to the other side of the median, which divides Huntington into two one-way thoroughfares. Crispo’s cause of death was listed as blunt trauma, according to his death certificate.
The driver of the Mercedes was sentenced to 60 days in the work services program, the Toyota driver to 30 days, Santiago added.
San Marino Police Chief John Incontro said he was “disappointed in the accountability the court held them to.”
“I understand there’s an importance to rehabilitate them,” Incontro said in a recent phone interview. “We’re not trying to punish them, but rehabilitate them, and that’s important. But there has to be a sense of accountability, and I don’t think that happened in this case.
“They deliberately sped — they were racing — and they killed somebody,” he added. “To me, [the sentence] doesn’t fit what their actions were.”
Crispo’s mother and his girlfriend, Marta Franco, are jointly suing the drivers and their guardians for unspecific punitive damages, alleging negligence for what the complaint says are their respective roles in the tragedy. The lawsuit claims both wrongful death and survival action and includes a claim regarding the killing of Niño as well.
Survival action claims are generally made in the context of managing a decedent’s estate, which includes the home Crispo owned with Franco. In related filings, Crispo’s cousin Cynthia Bicos is petitioning to administer his estate on behalf of his mother, who is the legal heir to his estate but is legally barred from administering it because she resides in Argentina. Bank of America also has filed a creditor’s claim for around $830.
Hiepler, the plaintiffs’ attorney, is with Oxnard-based Hiepler & Hiepler. The defendants are being represented by Los Angeles-based firm Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith. The defendants’ attorneys, who have filed a motion to strike down the lawsuit, did not respond to an Outlook email by press deadline.

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