Chesterton Tribune

Teen driver faces adult charges in death of passenger

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The 17-year-old Westville girl who police said was driving drunk when she crashed her vehicle in Pine Township in June, in an accident which fatally injured her passenger, a Liberty Township girl, has been waived to adult court to face a six-count indictment, including four felony charges.

On Friday Magistrate Edward Nemeth ordered Alysha M. Ramos—who will turn 18 on Friday—waived from juvenile court jurisdiction to Porter County Superior Court, where she will face the following charges: reckless homicide, a Class C felony; operating while intoxicated causing death, also a Class C felony; failure to stop after an accident resulting in death, a Class C felony; OWI causing serious bodily injury, a Class D felony; and two misdemeanor OWI charges.

A Class C felony is punishable by a term of two to eight years; a Class D by a term of six months to three years.

According to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police, at 5:10 a.m. on Sunday, June 1, Ramos was westbound on C.R. 1400N, wet of C.R. 400E, and had just looked down to close her cellular telephone after completing a call when her front-seat passenger, Alisha A. Purnick, 17, yelled at her “to pay attention to the road.” Ramos advised police that she looked up to see that she was driving off the roadway. Police said that Ramos then lost control of her vehicle, which left the roadway to the south and struck a tree on the passenger’s front side.

Ramos asked neighbors to call for help, police said, and then flagged down a passing motorist and left the scene. She was later returned to the scene by a family acquaintance, police said. Ramos subsequently registered a blood alcohol content of .16 percent on a certified test, police said, and was detained at the Juvenile Detention Center.

Purnick was airlifted with head trauma to St. James Hospital and Health Centers in Olympia Fields, Ill, where she died of her injuries on June 8.

In issuing his order, Nemeth made note of the following: that Ramos attended Chesterton High School for the 2007 fall term but has not attended school since January 2008; that Ramos left her mother’s residence after her mother took from her a vehicle which her father had given her, along with permission to use it, despite the fact that at one point Ramos had had her driver’s license suspended; that she had been living in Westville at the time of the accident, and since January, without any parental control.

In ordering Ramos waived, Nemeth stated that there is probable cause to believe that she was the driver of the vehicle, that she was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and that she left the scene; that “important factors for successful rehabilitation of a juvenile would be strong family support and parental control”; that Girls’ School “is not geared toward an individual that is about to turn 18” and “is not able to provide the necessary intensive services needed to rehabilitate this juvenile”; and that “there are no programs in the juvenile court to rehabilitate this offender because of her mature age” and that Ramos’ rehabilitation “would require much more time than is available through the juvenile justice system.”

“This court recognizes that there are limited options for the disposition available to the court due to the mature age of the juvenile, the seriousness of the charged acts, and the lack of proper parental supervision,” Nemeth concluded. “The court finds it is not in the best interests of the juvenile and the safety and welfare of the community for the juvenile to remain with the juvenile justice system.”


Posted 7/22/2008