Young girl killed after minivan flips

August 31, 2009 1:22:03 PM PDT
A young girl is dead after an minivan full of children flipped in west Harris County. Now there are questions about the person behind the wheel. Deputies say a 15-year-old was driving. A total of six people were in the minivan when it flipped Saturday afternoon and a little girl was thrown out of it. The minivan ended up against a tree on Clay Road at Greenhouse.

The medical examiner has identified the deceased child as Erika Rivera. She was just five years old.

Authorities say the minivan was headed westbound on Clay Road when for some unknown reason the driver lost control just before a stop light. The vehicle spun, then rolled on its side, ejecting the little girl.

Family members arriving on the scene were heartbroken when they learned of the news. Authorities say it appears the five-year-old was not riding in a proper safety seat. Four people were transported to the hospital. An adult female was taken aboard Life Flight and three other children, ages nine through 11, were taken via ambulance.

Police are still trying to determine if the 15-year-old driver had the proper permits to be behind the wheel. They say this accident proves how a bad turn can be so deadly.

"The forces of nature are incredible. I mean, you just can't fight physics and when a vehicle rolls that way, even though it doesn't look like a real violent crash, it can throw you out," said Sgt. S. Wolverton of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities have not stated whether any charges will be filed.

The State of Texas does have a graduated license program for teenage drivers. According to the Department of Public Safety, teens as young as 15 can apply for permits or hardship licenses. Teens with the permits must have an adult over 21 in the car to drive. When they get their provisional licenses, they're limited to the number of people they can have in the car.

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