BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A 15-year-old boy accepted a plea agreement Friday in connection with a vehicle chase that ended with him crashing into a tree, resulting in fatal injuries to one passenger and seriously injuring two others.
Jace Springer, whose mother allowed him to take her car despite him being unlicensed, must complete 200 hours in a juvenile work program and follow probation terms. The plea resulted in convictions on charges including vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Before sentencing, the grandmother of the teen who died said she wishes she could change what happened the evening of June 10, when Jace allegedly drove 100 mph before driving recklessly through Polo Community Park and leading police on a chase, according to court documents.
Despite the tragic outcome, the grandmother said she and her family don’t hate Jace.
“I know he was only being a teenager,” she said through tears. “I know they were just being kids. Jace, you know I’m not at mad at you.”
Jace and his parents wept as the grandmother spoke.
In addressing the teen, Judge Wendy Avila mentioned the extraordinary forgiveness shown to him. She said he has a duty to strive to do his best.
“You have to live for you and your friend,” the judge said.
Earlier, Avila found Jace unsuitable for deferred entry of judgment, which would have resulted in probation and the eventual dismissal of all charges if he stayed out of trouble and completed court-ordered rehabilitation.
Of special concern to Avila was the danger Jace placed not only himself and his passengers in, but also police and other motorists.
“Every person he passed on the street was someone who could have been a victim of his,” she said.
Jace hit a tree as he attempted to turn from Noriega Road onto Philadelphia Avenue, according to court documents. The car was traveling at 43 mph at impact, court documents say.
He ran from the car but police caught him soon after, according to the documents.
A passenger suffered major head trauma and died on June 22, the documents say. The other passengers and Jace received injuries including broken bones.
Jace’s mother, Candie Springer, 45, told police she gave him her keys for a quick trip to the market; he wasn’t supposed to pick up friends. She is facing a felony child cruelty charge and a misdemeanor charge of allowing an unlicensed driver to operate a motor vehicle. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week.