SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies forwarded two charges of vehicular homicide to the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office against the driver in a crash that killed two University High School students in October.
Court documents showed Preston Maher, 16, may have been driving to “get air” when his vehicle crashed Oct. 5 along South Bates Road. Maher had received his license the day before the deadly wreck, according to the documents. Spokane County deputies said Maher was speeding.
McKenzie Mott, 15, and Josie K. Freier, 15, were killed in the crash.
Authorities said the two girls left a birthday party in the car with Maher. According to witnesses, the group left to take the Ponderosa Jump near Bates and Ponderosa.
Court documents described the Ponderosa Jump as a roadway teenagers sped up toward to use as a jump off point.
Documents described Maher's speed as more than 50 miles-an-hour the night of the crash. Investigators estimated he was driving at highway speeds. The speed limit near the intersection is 25 miles-per-hour.
Detectives believe Maher hit a curb, went airborne, and hit a tree on the passenger side. The two girls were sitting in the front and back seat on that side.
One man had lived in the Ponderosa jump area for 35 years. Charles Stockburger, 75, gets emotional when he thinks about the accident that took the life of two young girls.
He said he has never heard of the Ponderosa jump.
“I've never heard of that term until this happened and it's inadvertent it did happen,” said Stockburger.
He said speeding generally is not a big issue along Ponderosa and Bates.
“Some of the younger folks do speed faster than they should. The bigger problem is the older people who half to hurry up and get there and get back,” said Stockburger.
Other nearby residents have a different story. One man said he has alerted the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office dozens of times about speeders and has not seen a lot of response from authorities.
That man said cars speed up the hill, catch air and bottom out at the intersection. He said he predicted someone would eventually be killed along the route.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said they have stopped 20 people along Bates for speeding since the beginning of 2013. They said they have increased patrols along the route since the wreck.
Maher was hospitalized following the deadly wreck. He was released from the hospital on October 10th, according to authorities.
Investigators said alcohol did not play a role in the crash. They said Maher was not impaired, but rather inexperienced.