[KHTS] – California Highway Patrol officers have yet to finalize their investigation into a fatal collision that killed 17-year-old Saugus High student Jennifer Stift, officials said Wednesday.
The 17-year-old Stift was jogging westbound across Golden Valley Road around 8:25 p.m. Aug. 18, when she was struck by a 1989 Toyota Celica heading southbound driven by a 17-year-old former Saugus High student.
An incident report on the collision has been underway since the crash, and is nearly completed, pending a formal review, said Officer John Lutz of the CHP-Newhall Station.
“Everything has to be examined completely — the car, the roadway conditions and, of course, the people involved,” Lutz said.
Sgt. Paul Reyes, the supervising officer for the investigation, confirmed the victim and the driver knew each other through the course of their time together in Santa Clarita Valley schools.
That information came to investigators through the course of their examination of the facts, but that was not a factor in the collision investigation, Reyes said.
After the collision, the driver acted in accordance with the law, officials said.
“(The driver) protected the scene as best he could from anything happening,” Reyes said, of the Golden Valley Road collision. “He did the right thing — he stayed and made himself available.”
It was too early to tell whether charges would be filed against the driver because the case has not yet been presented to the District Attorney’s Office, officials said.
Every fatal crash, regardless of whether there is suspected criminal activity involved, is presented to the D.A., according to officials.
Hundreds gathered at several memorials for Stift, who was “well-liked” by her peers, and active with the swim team and theater, according to a statement from the school’s principal.
The collision was investigated by an officer who’s part of a Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team, Lutz said, a nationally recognized unit for its expertise at looking into such cases.
The car’s mechanical conditions, any resulting vehicle damage, roadway conditions and a visibility study are a few of the aspects to be thoroughly investigated, Lutz said.
“We have to go through all of those particular things that we’re talking about,” Lutz said, “to see if there’s any sort of negligence and whether the negligence (is criminal).”
Speed is not suspected as a factor in the crash, Reyes said, and neither was drugs nor alcohol.