Calif. driver arrested in fatal crash near school

AP News
Posted: Feb 25, 2011 5:07 PM
Calif. driver arrested in fatal crash near school

Police on Friday arrested the driver accused of running a stop sign and plowing into a group of middle school students in Central California.

Police took 45-year-old Larry Dale Duke into custody more than two weeks after the crash that killed one girl and injured three others. Duke is being held on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

Ceres police said they planned to arrest Duke earlier Friday, but he did not show up at the Ceres Police Department. Police arrested Duke at his cousin's home without incident an hour later.

Witnesses told authorities that Duke crashed into the girls as they walked to Mae Hensley Junior High School on the morning of Feb. 9. Thirteen-year-old seventh-grader Danielle Tarancon-Leon was killed. Eighth-grader Nancy Zavala, who was in critical condition after the accident, was released from the hospital Monday, but requires home medical care, said Sgt. Jose Berber with the Ceres Police Department.

Duke apologized in an interview with KXTL-TV hours after the crash and said he didn't know how it happened.

State records show Duke has a history of traffic violations, including speeding and driving under the influence.

Police said formal charges won't be made until toxicology tests and other medical records become available next week.

Duke is being held at the Stanislaus County Jail, with the bail amount set at $100,000.


Information from: The Modesto Bee,