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Death of Novato teen in alcohol related auto accident

Wednesday, September 22, 2010By Richard Alexander
NOVATO -- A 16-year-old Novato boy arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license.

The Novato High School student, who was arrested in connection with a fatal car crash last Friday in Novato, was expected to be transferred to Marin County Juvenile Hall this week, a CHP spokesman said.

The boy was at the wheel of a BMW sedan carrying four other Novato High students when it spun out of control on Novato Boulevard near Bowman Canyon Creek and collided with a big rig. A container of liquor and open beer cans were found inside and outside the car, according to the CHP. An official for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said his agency was investigating how the teens obtained the alcohol.

One other student remained hospitalized Monday with severe head injuries at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, but was expected to survive after being taken off life support Sunday, authorities said. Two others were hospitalized and released Friday and Saturday.

Isaac Brott, 15, died at the scene, the CHP reported. The names of the four injured students have not been officially released.

At Novato High School, students mourned the loss of Brott, described by friends and classmates as kind, happy and outgoing.

On Monday, most of the morning's class time was devoted to the accident and counselors met with students individually throughout the day.

About 15 counselors from the Novato Unified School District, the Novato Youth Center and the nonprofit Bay Area Community Resources will remain on campus all week, said Novato schools Superintendent Jan La Torre-Derby. Michael Pritchard, a Marin public speaker who works with youth on a variety of issues, is scheduled to address students Thursday and Friday, she said, and after this week four counselors would be available to work with students.

In a letter to district employees and the Novato community, La Torre-Derby called for increased support for teen alcohol education.

"Working together we can continue to share the dangers of drinking and driving to avoid decisions that lead to tragedy," she wrote. "Please consider stepping forward to join this effort and prevent glamorization of drinking in our society." On Monday, La Torre-Derby expressed frustration that Friday's accident occurred despite ongoing district alcohol education efforts. Those efforts have included a "scared straight" program with inmates at San Quentin State Prison and presentations by the "Every 15 Minutes" drunken driving simulation program at both Novato and San Marin high schools last year.

"It was so impactful at the time," La Torre Derby said of the simulation, which included a talk by parents who lost a son in a drunken driving crash. "I just wish (students) would transfer that learning to reality."

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