Charges upgraded in Milton teenager’s death
MILTON The Rock City Falls man accused of being drunk behind the wheel when he ran down a 14-year-old girl on West Milton Road was charged Monday with second-degree vehicular manslaughter.
Gavin Staulters, 21, of 1021 Rock City Road, was arraigned released on a $10,000 bond, authorities said Tuesday.
Kari Liedel was walking on West Milton Road at 8:33 p.m. July 7 when Staulters’ southbound 2003 Ford Escape hit her. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities have not released Staulters’ blood-alcohol level at the time of the incident.
He originally was arrested on a misdemeanor DWI charge, and the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to block Staulters from pleading guilty to that charge, which would have prevented him from being charged with a felony in connection with Liedel’s death.
The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office waited to charge him with the manslaughter until the investigation was done and toxicology tests results were in hand. He is due back in Milton Town Court on Aug. 14.
Liedel’s death shocked her friends and family, who have rallied with T-shirts featuring her face and an anti-drunken driving message.
Liedel, of Atomic Project Road, had just finished ninth grade at Ballston Spa High School and was an aspiring singer, posting some of her home performances on YouTube. She loved horses and was usually tethered to her cellphone, friends said after her death.
She often walked with friends along that stretch of West Milton Road, heading to the Stewart’s at the corner of West Milton and Galway roads, about a mile from her home. Though the road is windy, the stretch where Liedel was hit is straight. Her loved ones have left an informal memorial at the site, including a plea written on a board: “Don’t drink and drive!”
At a community grief forum two weeks ago, mothers of the two Ballston Spa High School students who died this year shared their heartache. Noelle Johnsen, 17, was killed in a one-vehicle accident Jan. 7 on Barkersville Road in Providence.
The driver of that vehicle, 18-year-old Brian Vecchio, is slated to be sentenced Friday in Saratoga County Court. He pleaded guilty this spring to criminally negligent homicide, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 11⁄3 to 4 years in prison.
Liedel was friends with Johnsen and was shaken by the older girl’s death, said her mother, Sarah Liedel. Kari wanted to get a tattoo in memory of Johnsen, but was not allowed because she was too young, her mother said.