ARCADIA (CBS) — There’s a long list of things that cause fatal crashes: alcohol, driver error, speeding, texting, driver distraction, glare…

But there is one factor that you may not think of — a dirty windshield.

Officials believe that a dirty windshield was the difference on April 10 between life and death for Alice Zhang, a 16-year-old Arcadia High School student.

According to Detective Mike Hale, authorities plan to file a vehicular manslaughter case with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

The driver? A 19-year-old male behind the wheel of a 1997 Lexus sedan. He is, ironically, a graduate of Arcadia High. He’s also described as in the Army Reserves with no prior criminal history. Through his lawyer, the unidentified 19-year-old says he is heartbroken.

Hale explains, “There was some negligence here on the part of the driver, with the condition of the vehicle and that’s what resulted in the collision and the tragedy that followed. The whole vehicle was dirty, but specifically the windshield… that’s when you have an issue.”

He adds, “If his windshield wasn’t dirty, we would never even be having that conversation.”

The accident also seriously injured a friend, also a teen, walking with Zhang.

According to the driver’s attorney, the car belongs to his father and not driven often.

KCAL9’s Serene Branson reported that the attorney maintains that it was glare and not negligence that caused this accident.

Comments (23)
  1. jj says:

    Why destroy two lives? Suspend his license, give him 1,000 hours of community service, but why charge him with manslaughter over something that isn’t 100% certain. There is absolutely NO WAY to know if the dirty windshield was the cause. As far as the articles goes, the young man did not commit a Hit and Run. That, right there would be a serious crime. I’ve seen people on the streets commit more serious acts, such as purposely aiming their cars at cyclist, pedestrians and other vehicles, yet when a cop sees them they let them go away with a “reckles driving” ticket…come on!

    1. duh! says:

      If they don’t actually hit someone, then all the police can issue is a reckless driving ticket.

      Unless of course you now want the police to charge people with what the police think the person intended to do without the person actually committing the crime. Come on!!!!

      1. jj says:

        Isn’t that what is happening here? Charging the person, who had NO intention to run over anyone, without the person actually committing the crime? There is no crime here, simply an accident. This whole thing of charging people on “maunslaugher” is disgusting. It simply destroys more lives.

    2. Rod says:

      Thats why it’s vehicular manslaugter jj….he decided to drive the vehicle in that condition & it could have been the cause of this accident. That’s why we have trials so that every aspect of this incident is reviewed & if this young man is found guilty or innocent of any wrongdoing by his peers, then so be it. Suspend his license & community service?…Let’s be real here jj, someone lost their life & the person responsible should be held accountable for his actions or inaction to drive safely (which includes having an unobstructed point of view through the vehicles windshield)

    3. retphxfire says:

      At the least, he wasn’t driving defensively, with his full attention on the road. I don’t care if he didn’t leave, that is just one charge he can avoid, his negligence is what caused this young girl’s death. Glare blindness can be reduced and if its that bad stop driving!!!!! If he hadn’t caused a death, he would also be walking away with lessor charges/tickets. His ‘intent’ will mean the difference between negligence and premeditation. I’m tired of people wanting to throw the book at someone that didn’t harm anyone, but let someone responsible for a death to have little or no consequences. sheesh

  2. j says:

    Ive seen a kid this age hit a pedestrian and that person passed. I was the first driver to witness and stop. The kid was 16 the ped 21. At a young age u don’t realize the possible danger u have in a car. For both families I feel sorrow, but the manslaughter charge is without warrant. To blame the kid for a dirty car and call it manslaughter seems absurd.

    1. den says:

      idiot he’s a full grown man not a kid so he needs to take responsibility

    2. retphxfire says:

      Who do we hold responsible for HIS dirty car, the person next door? What kind of comment was that? He got in the car and did NOTHING to remedy a hazard…a dirty windshield. I’m amazed that you would even post that, same old not taking responsiblity for our OWN actions. Its manslaughter because there was no intent, it’s the less charge in the death of someone resulting from negligence, which is exactly what this is, negligence.

  3. mister s says:

    What is wrong with you people? He got behind the wheel of a 2 ton moving object, and had to have noticed his vision was inpaired by the filth on the glass. But rather than spend 10 seconds wiping some of it off, he decided to put the lives of others at risk by driving the vehicle with (easily correctable) an impaired line of sight. He lost the gamble and killed someones daughter. Its good that he did not flee, and its good that he feels remorse. Fact is though, he was lazy and negligent, and it cost someone else their life. So yeah, he needs to serve some prison time. I’m sure he won’t get more than a few well deserved years.

    1. jj says:

      You seriously believe his windshield was that impaired? Had his windshield had been severely impaired he wouldn’t had me it to the corner of his street. To say “well deserved” is disgusting and completely heinous! You are practically saying we should punish two families for the stupid mistake of one kid. Why? Had this kid been acting wrecklessly I would understand his punishment. But he wasn’t! Understand we are all humans and subject to our own naiveness. Even you! You’ve had your share of mistakes and be thanksful they have not cost you much. Or so I think.

      1. Rod says:

        Mistakes are mistakes but that does not mean the person who committed them should not be held accountable. At the age of 19, I’m guessing this young man had a valid drivers license. There is a section in the license handbook which pertains to the illegality of driving with any obstruction on your vehicles windshield or rear view mirror . Well when you sign for your license you are agreeing that you have read & understand to abide by every law & by-law in the handbook. That right there in itself is enough to hold this young man accountable. He can plead ignorance all he wants but that doesn’t change his accountability in this accident where someone lost their life. By the age of 19 you should be able to express some kind of common sense & if that seems like to much to handle, maybe you shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car.

      2. retphxfire says:

        jj: Sooooo, who do we hold responsible for causing harm? Do we let the guy who left a loaded gun out for a child to find because it would inconvenience his family? Of course he could have driven, people drive with dirty windshields all the time and are reckless for doing so, add the sun and you have a recipe for disaster. Also, so someone is ‘naive’ (he’s no child), that is a defense? I just can’t believe the atttitude, unless you are somehow related or in a similar situation. He drove an unsafe vehicle, he didn’t drive defensively, his negligence and lack of action resulted in the death of a young women…all this and you still think that he has no responsiblity beyond community service? Perhaps that will be the decision of the courts, he has no criminal record and there was no intent but the charges are for his actions in this case and they were not naive, but criminal. People who cause harm/death with no intent, but through negligence are chaged every day, and I would guess you applaud most of them.

  4. Dumbest Excuse says:

    Dirty windshield?

  5. What's wrong with people? says:

    When I read news articles like this and then the comments from readers that follow, I realize how much of our society is basically a lynch mob. “JJ” has the most common sense out of all of you. What’s more disgusting than the accidental loss of this young girl is this forum’s mentality to crucify another for a mistake. If there was someone to crucify each of us every time we made a mistake there’d be no one around. People as a whole have become way too judgmental. It’s sad.

    1. Rod says:

      I don’t think having someone who caused this accident go through a trial by his fellow citizen is too much to ask for the family who lost a loved one. I don’t think anyone here is crucifying him (at least not me) but he does need to go through “due process” just like anyone else who causes someone to lose their life.

  6. Steve Peterson says:

    Who are these fools that state that the accident was from a dirty windshild? For I am a Truck Driver,And the Police will “not get me to believe that Lie “. Wake up America We The People are starting to live within a police State of stupidity that will soon attemp to take all of your Constitutional Rights away…Even your Constitutional rights away of Due Process that is mandated by the law itself !!!Respectfully, Steve Peterson Rommel

  7. seriously says:

    I seriously cant believe this is even a topic od discusion. Dirty windshield. are you serious. I bet not one of you that are saying that he should be held responible would think that way if it was your son, brother, cousin or friend. you people have the tendency to talk alot of smack. it is truley unbelievable. I hope that some one you love is put in a situation where there whole life could change over some but splatter on the windshield. Give me a break.

  8. How Dirty is it Considered Gross Negligent Dirty says:

    Unless that windshield was cleaned I don’t think that is dirty enough to convict somebody of felony vehicular manslaughter. Even if the windshield was cleaned before these pictures you can still try to make a determination on how dirty the windshield could have possibly been from the dirt on the car. I’ve seen a clean car get this dirty after a drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. From all the articles I’ve read about this it includes the dirty window with the accident occuring when the sun was setting. If the DA can argue that the accident was primarily due to a dirty window and would still have happened any other time of the day then there is a case. But the defense is probably going to argue that the accident was due primarily to sun glare caused by the setting sun. Students a couple of weeks ago talked to the city council on how they too had problems on that crosswalk. ( ) I don’t know if it’s the city trying to prevent a lawsuit or not wanting to spend the money on a red light but I think felony vehicular manslaughter is too far. It’s a mimimum of 2 years in jail. I could understand misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter but not felony. With felony the DA has to argue that the window was so dirty that it fell way below the ordinary standard of care. If these pictures show how dirty the windhsield was I believe that a reasonable person would still drive the car in that condition.

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