Nevada Union crash suspect still in hospital; criminal charges pending, authorities say |

Nevada Union crash suspect still in hospital; criminal charges pending, authorities say

Tyler Nielson, a senior at Nevada Union, was killed in a collision Sunday.
Photo courtesy the Nielson family

Tyler Nielson, 17, and Justin Gardner, 16 — the two Nevada Union High School students killed Sunday in a Merced County wreck — died because of an accident, a determination that won’t affect any criminal case that stems from the crash, authorities said.

Autopsies performed Monday and Tuesday determined the two teens died from multiple blunt impact injuries. The manner of their deaths is accidental, Merced County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Ruiz said.

“Just because we rule it accidental, that doesn’t have any effect to the criminal portion of it,” he added.

Sabrina Distura, 21, of San Jose, is accused on Sunday of crossing the Interstate 5 median near Los Banos and colliding head-on with a Nissan driven by Nielson. The Los Banos California Highway Patrol said Wednesday that Distura would face at least a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter, which could be a felony or misdemeanor. Officers previously said she would face a felony DUI charge.

“She’s still in the hospital,” CHP Officer Alan Carmo said of Distura, calling her injuries moderate.

Nielson and Gardner were traveling Sunday morning with family to Pismo Beach when the wreck happened. Authorities said Nielson died at the scene. Gardner died hours later at a Modesto hospital.

Dawson Fay, a 16-year-old Nevada Union student in Nielson’s vehicle, suffered a broken hip, school officials said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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