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State police: Alcohol involved in wreck that killed girl, left seven other juveniles hurt


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A Bannock County Search and Rescue unit blocks access to West Trail Creek Road early Saturday morning after a one-vehicle wreck on the road killed a girl and sent seven other juveniles to the hospital. | Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — Alcohol was involved in a horrific weekend wreck that killed a girl and left seven other juveniles injured, state police said.

Americaus Birdwell, 15, of Pocatello, died in the 3:25 a.m. Saturday one-vehicle crash on West Trail Creek Road on the city’s west bench. She was ejected from the SUV as it overturned down an embankment and was pronounced dead at the scene.

State police said alcohol was involved in the crash that occurred when the SUV, driven by James Smith, 20, of Pocatello, went off the left shoulder of West Trail Creek Road, returned to the road and then careened off the right shoulder and rolled down an embankment.

State police said they will be meeting this week with the Bannock County Prosecutor’s Office to discuss whether charges should be filed in the case. State police would not comment on what Smith’s blood-alcohol content was following the crash. But troopers did say that the standard for a drunk driving charge for someone under the age of 21 is only .02 percent BAC compared to the .08 percent BAC required to charge someone 21 and older.

In addition to Smith and Birdwell, there were seven other occupants — all juveniles — in the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee at the time of the crash.

All seven were transported by ambulances to Portneuf Medical Center following the wreck. Authorities said Monday that all seven were treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital.

Smith was wearing his seat belt, but none of his eight passengers were doing the same. Smith was the only one in the SUV who was not injured during the crash.

State police have declined to release the names of the seven passengers injured in the wreck because they are juveniles.

The crash remains under investigation by state police.

This article was originally published by the Idaho State Journal. It is used here with permission.


UPDATE: One teen dead, seven juveniles injured in crash on Pocatello’s west bench