May 22, 2014

Teen driver arrested in fatal Arlington wreck

Police say excessive speed caused the driver to smash a vehicle into a tree, resulting in a passenger’s death.

Police have arrested the teenage driver of a vehicle that smashed into a tree in southeast Arlington on May 6, leaving one passenger dead and another injured.

James Henry Samora, 17, was in the Arlington Jail on Thursday facing manslaughter and aggravated-assault charges, according to the jail log. Bail was set at $20,000.

Samora was arrested about 7 a.m. Thursday at a residence in the 1800 block of Lost Crossing Trail, the jail log showed.

Another 17-year-old, Michael Rowlls of Arlington, was pulled from the vehicle by firefighters and pronounced dead by officials with the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office. Rowlls died from traumatic asphyxiation due to entrapment in a vehicle, according to the medical examiner’s website.

Investigators believe that excessive speed caused Samora to lose control of his vehicle and smash into a tree in the 1900 block of Winter Pass Trail, a news release from Arlington police said.

Witnesses told police that the Ford Mustang driven by Samora was headed west at high speed, went off the road and wrapped around a tree.

Samora and his back-seat passenger were taken to hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, the release said.

The probable-cause arrest warrant for Samora provided these details:

Samora and the two others in his white Mustang decided to go to the store to buy cigars. After buying the cigars, Samora asked the others whether they wanted to see what his Mustang would do.

The injured passenger told police that he said “he did not want to die today,” but Samora continued to accelerate through the neighborhood.

A police investigation concluded that the Mustang was traveling 75 mph in a 30-mph zone. Witnesses told police that the Mustang entered a sharp curve before Samora lost control and left the road, hitting a tree in heavy woods.

An investigator calculated that the critical curve speed — the speed at which a driver can negotiate a curve without the wheels going off the road — is 62 mph.

The rear passenger told police that he broke three bones in his foot, fractured his jaw, shattered his heel and injured his foot muscles.

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