Police report questioned for teen not charged with 'hit and run'

David Bernier

Imagine driving down the road when all of the sudden another vehicle improperly turns in front of you from the opposite direction at a green light.

David Bernier says it happened to his wife Kathleen on August 6th at the intersection of Commerce Street and Tyler Avenue in Harlingen.

The other driver, he says, then fled.

"A 15-year-old kid in his first accident| I understand that he got scared but it's still no excuse for not being charged," David explains.

Action 4 News obtained a copy of the 9-1-1 call his wife made.

She can be heard on it giving specific directions on where the suspect driver is headed.

Kathleen and two other eyewitnesses chased the suspect to Crockett Avenue where police caught up with the 15-year old behind the wheel.

The boy's age is clearly noted on the police crash report.

What's notably missing, David says, is any indication of a hit and run.

"I was upset!" he said. "I was aggravated. I wanted to know immediately why he was not charged with hit and run."

David says it's not in the officer's narrative or even checked off in the box designated for such an offense.

The only charge listed: Failure to yield the right of way.

David feels the police department handled it wrong.

"He might get behind the wheel again and hit somebody and kill somebody and if they get hurt or if he hurts somebody, then what?" he asked. "Is he going to hit and run again? There is no lesson learned."

Harlingen Police Department Spokesperson Dave Osborne admits there are some minor errors in the report.

But he adds how confusion with a new crash reporting system in place may have been a contributing factor.

"In this case the actual information of how the collision occurred was correct and all the requirements met for that report; however, minor details such as the check box for hit and run factor in there as well as possible other information collected from that driver probably could have been on that report as well," the sergeant said.

Crash reports can be amended, according to Osborne.

The sergeant says the driver in question may face additional charges not shown, but it won't be for hit and run.

"The information was provided," he explained. "The insurance was there. We had simply a 15-year-old that appeared to be getting scared, got nervous, and left the scene and was trying to get home."

David feels this apparent case of "benefit of the doubt" should be of great concern to others on the road.

"Where does it stop?" he asked. "If he hit somebody and killed them... He could have hurt my wife and drove off and never known."

The driver did have a permit to drive but was not with a licensed driver 21 years of age or older, according to police.

He could be charged for that and failure to stop and provide information at the scene of an accident, Osborne says.

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