The driver of a minivan plowed off a busy interstate into a group of seven youths, killing five instantly as they participated in a Clark County Juvenile Courts community work program last month. A sixth died within 24 hours.
“In my 26 years here we’ve never had anything like this happen,” Clark County Family and Youth Services Director Kirby Burgess told the Las Vegas Sun.
Those killed were Scott Garner Jr., 14; Alberto Puig, 16; Anthony T. Smith, 14; Rebecca Glicken, 15; Malina Stolzfus, 15; and Jennifer Booth, 15.
All were wearing red safety vests as they spent the day picking up trash on a highway just south of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the van, driven by Las Vegas dancer Jessica Williams, 20, careened out of control, raced 200 feet across a dirt median and struck them, according to police. Williams may face involuntary manslaughter charges.
The program began 11 years ago to give teens convicted of misdemeanors, such as curfew violations or petty larceny, an option of community service to pay off fees and restitution fines instead of serving time in juvenile detention. According to a youth services spokeswoman, the agency had contracted with the Silver State Disposal Co., which used the teens an average of 16 hours each for work such as roadway cleanup.
Seven supervisors were with the juveniles, whose ages ranged from 12 to 17. At the time of the accident, there were 45 members of the youth work crew.
After suspending the program for at least the following week, the youth services spokeswoman said, “We will have to take a re-look at the program, because our first concern is the safety of our kids.”