Teens crash on way back from Marin Headlands, none were licensed drivers

The first day of school did not go as planned for some Marin County teenagers, whose reckless driving ended with a crash and citations.

And since none of the three drivers had a valid license, their parents are being quizzed on how they obtained cars.

"Parents, by knowingly giving the keys to an unlicensed driver, they can be in trouble for that, it's a misdemeanor," said CHP Officer Jermaine Erby.

The three-car crash occurred Thursday morning on Highway 101 after an excursion known as Senior Sunrise. 

Dozens of San Rafael High School students, from the class of 2020, trooped to the Marin headlands before dawn. 

"On the first day of school every year the seniors go out and watch the sun rise," explained sophomore Marcus Englebrecht. "I think the whole class participates and it's a tradition everyone likes to be a part of." 

But as the car caravan headed north, back toward school, a Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Toyota tangled. 

"They were driving in an unsafe fashion, playing around with each other," Erby said, "with lane changes, passing, weaving, and cutting each other off." 

One car hit the other, which spun into the path of the third. 

The collision occurred just south of the Highway 131-Tiburon exit.

No one was hurt, and no other motorists were involved. 

The 16- and 17-year-old drivers told officers they had been goofing around behind the wheel. 

Marin CHP posted photos of the cars on Facebook captioned: "Not the first day of school photos" parents hope to post. 

Erby noted that one driver has a provisional drivers license, which prohibits passengers unless there is also an adult riding in the car. 

The other two drivers are unlicensed, although one may have a learner's permit, which does not allow unsupervised driving. 

All three had other teenagers riding with them, and all three drivers were cited.    

"Hopefully it scares them so they drive much safer, because we don't want an accident where somebody does get hurt," said Erby.

There are plenty of cases of teen driving ending tragically. 

Car accidents are their number one cause of death, and teens are three times as likely to die in a fatal accident as a driver over age twenty. 

As a group, teenage drivers are easily distracted, inexperienced, and immature. 

"It's a hard time for kids when they just turn 16 and don't know what they're doing," said San Rafael Supt. of Schools Jim Hogeboom, who is still  gathering facts about his students' freeway mishap.   
"Kids driving without licenses, or when they're high or using alcohol, those are always big concerns for us," said Hogeboom. 

He said schools stopped teaching drivers education long ago, and he's considering assemblies to re-emphasize safety - for students and parents.  

"When you give the keys to a teenager who's never driven before, you need to be on top of that because they're going to be goofing around and not taking it as seriously as they need to," he said. 

Hogeboom said since the incident occurred off-campus, there will be no consequences from the school. 

Friends of the girls involved say they made it to class on the first day, but were a bit shook-up.

Ironically, as the CHP noted, fog at the Golden Gate Bridge Thursday morning made the sunrise impossible to see.