Report faults driver in crash that killed boy
Had he not been driving on the wrong side of the road, authorities say, Dale Traylor might have avoided his current situation: facing a charge of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a 9-year-old.
A California Highway Patrol report charts the roles of both Traylor and 9-year-old Tyler Lason’s in their April 10 collision that claimed Tyler’s life. The report concluded Traylor was responsible in the crash and that his driving might have been influenced by alcohol – though his blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit.
The evening of the crash, Tyler Lason was riding his small Honda motorcycle near his home on Creek View Drive, while Traylor was heading in the opposite direction on the same side of the road as the boy. At the crest of the hill, the two collided, killing the 9-year-old.
“I was coming over the hill and I saw a helmet coming toward me … then I saw him,” Traylor, 42, told authorities, according to the report. “I hit the breaks. I had no time to swerve or do anything.”
Traylor’s 1993 Chevrolet Blazer received moderate front-end damage, while most of the motorcycle was crushed. Its speedometer needle was stuck at 30 mph, the report said. The report concluded that the boy was speeding.
Larry Lason, Tyler’s father, conceded the factual information, but he said the speedometer needle may also have been pushed to the right by the force of the crash, just as were other parts of the motorcycle. He said that the motorcycle tops out at 25 mph on level ground.
“Everything was pushed to the right (on the motorcycle),” he said.
Traylor remained at the crash site and held the boy until medics arrived, Larry Lason said in the report. Traylor told authorities he was driving 15 mph.
He also said he drank one beer at 4:45 p.m. before leaving his parents’ home on Creek View Drive at 5 p.m. In the report, a highway patrol officer wrote that he smelled a faint trace of alcohol on Traylor’s breath an hour after the crash. Traylor passed a balance and coordination test, and an on-site test at 6:40 p.m. showed he had a blood-alcohol level of about 0.05.
“This level of alcohol intoxication may have contributed to the collision,” the report said.
The state’s legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers is .08.
Another contributing element was that both Tyler Lason and Traylor were driving up a hill and did not see each other until the last moment. They did not have enough time to try and avoid the wreck, the report said.
But the reason the crash took place and Tyler Lason died, the report said, was because Traylor was on the wrong side of the private road – not because the boy, and maybe Traylor, were allegedly speeding.
“Although some elements of the California Vehicle Code do not apply on private property, the driver has the obligation to operate (the SUV) with care and prudence,” the report concluded.
Larry Lason said he supports the district attorney’s office’s prosecution of Traylor.
“Most definitely,” he said Thursday. “An innocent child was killed. I call that not paying attention.”
Calls to Traylor’s home by The Union were not returned.
Both Traylor and Larry Lason are being sued by Lason’s ex-wife. The suit alleges Lason was negligent in watching over Tyler and that Traylor was under the influence of alcohol before the crash.
Traylor is next scheduled to appear in court Aug. 19 to enter a plea in the criminal case.
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