Ethan Saltar was just 16 years old when he was killed in a car accident in Brighton, Colorado, last September. His best friend was driving the sport utility vehicle Ethan was riding in, and when the vehicle rolled over in the crash, Ethan was ejected. Ethan’s friend was driving under the influence of alcohol. What’s even more chilling about this case is the other passenger in the car, 22-year-old Amanda Gonzales. It was her sport utility vehicle they were all riding in. Gonzales apparently gave both teenage boys alcohol–and then gave Ethan’s friend the keys to her car. The driver is being charged with vehicular homicide for his role in the accident. Gonzales is not. For Ethan Saltar’s mother, Leanne, this is unacceptable.
So far, the only thing Amanda Gonzales has been charged with is contributing to the delinquency of a minor for providing the boys with alcohol. This is a felony, and if convicted, Gonzales can be sentenced to prison for two to six years. According to the Adams County District Attorney, Don Quick, his office did consider charging Gonzales with vehicular homicide as well. They were unable to do so because the law would not support that charge.
This does not preclude, however, a civil case should Leanne Saltar choose to pursue it. She has said she will continue to fight for justice for her son, and she hopes this tragedy serves as a message to other teens about drunk driving.
As statewide sponsors of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), we at Bachus & Schanker are saddened by these events. It’s unfortunate that it sometimes takes a tragedy to bring such an important issue to the forefront. We hope you never find yourself in Leanne Saltar’s shoes, but if you do, our experienced car accident attorneys can help you get the justice you and your loved ones deserve.