Coroner: Teen Killed in Crash Wasn’t Drunk

A San Marino High School student who died in a solo car crash near the Rose Bowl in May had alcohol in his bloodstream but only in modest amounts, the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner reported last week.
A toxicology analysis found that Brendan Leon, who had turned 17 the day before the wreck, had blood-alcohol levels ranging from .028 % to .044%, depending on where in the body the blood was harvested. The driver of a vehicle is considered to be driving under the influence in California with a blood-alcohol level of .08% or more.
“There was alcohol in his system, but nothing that would impair,” coroner’s spokesman Ed Winter said.
The toxicology report also listed “presumptive positive” evidence of marijuana.
Leon, who was nearing the end of his junior year of high school, died just before 3 a.m. on May 8, a Sunday, when he wrapped his 2002 BMW 330 around a light pole at the southwest corner of the Rose Bowl. According to police, he was speeding southbound on West Drive when he lost control and skidded sideways into the pole at West Drive’s intersection with Seco Street. Officers told the coroner’s investigator that the vehicle was traveling in excess of 100 mph. (The speed limit for that road is 35 mph.)
Leon was pronounced dead at the scene. The autopsy listed the cause as blunt trauma to the head and neck.
In a Facebook post following the crash, Leon’s father, Robert, first cited the weight of the car and noted that it is difficult to handle at a high rate of speed. But in a subsequent interview, he said, “We believe he fell asleep at the wheel. That’s why it was such a high rate of speed.” He added, “We told him he could spend the night [with a friend], but he wanted to come home.”
Leon was a reserve linebacker on the SMHS football team that won a CIF championship last fall.

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