Driver involved in Hwy 74 crash that killed infant held on $1.86M bail
UPDATE #4: 05/07/2016 4:30 p.m.
California Highway Patrol officials announced that on Thursday, May 5, they arrested the father of an infant killed in last Sunday morning’s fatal crash on Highway 74 near Pinyon Pines. Marcus Novell Green, 51, of Thermal, had his first court appearance on charges related to the Sunday, May 1, fatal traffic collision, Friday, May 6.
Officials booked Green into jail with 13 felony counts, including vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, murder, inflicting great bodily injury, willful harm to a child, two counts of being a habitual criminal and seven counts related to his state prison priors.
Green, who was in Indio Superior Court May 6, pleaded not guilty to all charges against him. He is currently incarcerated at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning, and is being held in lieu of $1.86 million bail.
In addition to charges being filed against Green, additional charges are expected to be filed against the baby’s mother as well. She has been identified as Kristen Lauer, 22, of Rancho Mirage. Lauer is reportedly still receiving treatment at Desert Regional Medical Center. According to officials, Lauer sustained significant back and other injuries in the fatal crash.
Through their investigation, CHP officials determined speed was a primary contributing factor in the crash. According to officials, Green was driving his Porsche at an “excessive rate of speed,” while heading down the mountain towards Palm Desert when the fatal accident occurred.
Additionally, officials have determined Green and Lauer’s failure to properly secure the baby in an approved child safety restraint seat was the primary contributing factor in the baby’s tragic death.
Neither alcohol nor drugs were considered to be factors in the fatal crash, according to officials.
Green allegedly lost control while speeding in the two-seat Porsche he and Lauer were driving in on Hwy 74 – also known as the Pines to Palms Highway. When Green lost control of his vehicle it smashed through a guard rail near the Vista Point overlook.
After crashing through the guard rail, the car plummeted over the edge of the mountainside. The twisted and mangled wreck reportedly end up coming to rest between 150-250 feet over the embankment.
CHP officials have stated the infant – who was not properly secured in an approved child safety seat in the two-seat Porsche – was ejected during the crash. The 5-month-old, identified by Coroner’s officials as Armani Green, suffered fatal injuries in the accident and later succumbed to her injuries at the scene.
Officials said Green is also facing special allegations charges related to numerous prior convictions in Los Angles County. A Superior Court records search revealed Green’s prior convictions include possession of stolen property in 1991, robbery from 1995, assault with a firearm in 1995, and possession of stolen property again in 1998.
One of the first people who came to Green and Lauer’s aid was Bryan Valenzuela. Valenzuela was reportedly riding his motorcycle along Hwy 74 Sunday morning when he came upon the deadly crash scene. Valenzuela was one of several citizens who reportedly risked their own lives climbing down the mountain into the ravine where Green’s Porsche finally came to rest. Valenzuela told responding officers he initially found Green and Lauer barely conscious in the destroyed Porsche.
According to officials, Green allegedly asked Valenzuela if he knew where the couple’s baby was. Valenzuela told emergency first responders he initially believed Green was confused until he began to search around the area of the wrecked car. Valenzuela said he eventually located the deceased child when he was making his my way back up the mountainside towards the roadway above the ravine. The deceased baby was reportedly found laying among vehicle debris down the rocky ravine.
First responders airlifted Green and Lauer to Desert Regional Medical Center with serious injuries related to the fatal accident.
Armani’s grandparents set up a Go Fund Me account to raise money for their granddaughter’s funeral and help cover the medical costs of their daughter, Lauer. So far the Go Fund Me has received over 2,000 shares and raised $19,820 of $100,000 the family is attempting to raise for burial costs for Armani and medical expenses for Lauer. Individual donations ranged from $5 to $1,000.
Countless people who have seen or been made aware of the family’s attempt to raise $100,000 for expenses related to Armani’s burial and Lauer’s medical expenses have expressed outrage and disgust, citing the facts related to the accident; including the fact the two adults and infant were inside a two-seat vehicle, that did not have a place for the baby to be properly secured in the high-performance vehicle.
Because Lauer was holding the infant in her arms at the time of the collision, many believe neither she nor Green showed any care or consideration for the safety of the 5-month-old victim.
One person, identified only as Jenn Y, donated $5, just so she could post the following message: “I’m so sorry that the gold digger & her sugar daddy decided to be irresponsible and not put their 5 month old baby in a car seat and as a result, have an innocent life taken away. I’m also sorry for all of you who are supporting these “parents” who should be in jail instead of asking for $100k.”
According to CHP officials, multiple felony charges are expected to be filed against Lauer when she has recovered enough to appear in court.
Green’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 10, at 8:30 a.m., at the Larsen Justice Center, in Indio.
PINYON PINES – A 5-month-old girl from Rancho Mirage died Sunday, May 1, in a single-vehicle, rollover traffic accident, according to California Highway Patrol officials. Two other adults sustained major injures in the accident that caused the closure of both lanes of traffic along the highway between Pinyon Pines and Palm Desert. Highway 74 is also known as the Pines To Palms Highway in the area where the fatal accident occurred.
In a press release from Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Spokeswoman Jody Hagemann explained, “The car went about 150 feet over the side of the road near Vista Point.”
The accident – involving a black, two-seat Porsche – was reported to emergency first responders at about 8:08 a.m.
According to a Coroner’s report, 5-month-old Armani Green was pronounced dead at 9:28 a.m., about one hour and one half hours after the crash occurred. The coroner’s release indicated the accident occurred on Highway 74, near Mile Marker 89, outside Palm Desert.
Two other people from inside the car suffered serious injuries in the crash. Both were airlifted off the side of the mountain and treated at the scene by emergency first responders before being transported by ambulance to an area hospital for treatment.
18 firefighters from three engine companies and one truck company responded to the fatal accident. Emergency first responders from CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department, AMR, California Highway Patrol, and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department responded to the accident to assist with recovering deceased infant and extricating the victims from the mangled vehicle.
When emergency first responders arrived, they immediately began rescue operations for the two subjects trapped inside the Porsche. During their rescue efforts, officials learned that several citizens had stopped and risked their lives climbing down into the canyon to help those trapped in the wrecked car.
Among others, a motorcyclist, a bicyclist, and a passing motorist all reportedly went down into the steep ravine to provide aid and comfort to those injured in the crash. While citizens attempted to assist the driver and passenger, the good Samaritans discovered an infant who was ejected from the car at the time of the collision. The infant sustained major traumatic injuries and was later pronounced dead at the scene by emergency first responders.
Witnesses at the scene later described seeing a child’s diaper bag, a child’s jacket, baby clothing, vehicle debris and other personal items that were found strewn about the roadway and down the steep embankment.
CHP officers requested assistance from H60 – one of their helicopters – to airlift the two survivors out of the steep ravine. After the technical hoist, paramedics treated both adult victims at the scene before they were taken by ambulance to Desert Regional Medical Center. The couple, described only as a male and female, have not yet been identified.
Although there were three people inside the wrecked vehicle, the Porsche the three victims were in only had seats and seat belts for two occupants, according to a CHP official. Because the car only had seats for two people, CHP officials stated they do not believe the infant was properly and legally restrained inside the vehicle.
The driver and passenger – who have now been identified as Green and Lauer– were in their seats and were wearing their safety belts. In spite of their injuries, both are expected to survive. According to officials, the woman was critically injured in the accident. A fire incident report from Cal Fire indicated both the male and female sustained major injuries in the accident.
After the crash, CHP officers called for the temporary closure of all traffic on Highway 74 between Pinyon Pines and Palm Desert. The closure lasted about 5 hours, while officers conducted an accident investigation and crews reportedly spent several hours recovering the destroyed Porsche from the ravine.
Both lanes of traffic were reportedly re-opened around 1 p.m.
According to a CHP official, the cause of the accident is still under investigation; however the official stated, “Based on the physical evidence and the way the collision occurred, it appears that speed was a contributing factor in this fatal accident.”
This was the second fatality on Highway 74 to occur in less than one month. CHP and CalTrans officials stated the guard rail that was destroyed in the crash was just repaired and replaced, after the other recent fatal accident in the same area.
Eutiquio Ramirez, of Indio, died April 10, after his vehicle went off the roadway and plummeted nearly 100 feet down the steep embankment.
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