No Charges Expected to be Filed in Road Grader Death

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DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Police do not expect to file any charges against the driver of the road grader which struck and killed 16-year-old Antonio Sanchez-Peck on Thursday across from Lincoln High School.

Police say witnesses tell them Sanchez did not see the road grader coming, and he stepped into the street while it went by, striking the back tires. Officials also say so far all indications show the driver of the grader was not doing anything wrong.

“Based on everything the witnesses are telling us, the road grader was traveling well below the posted speed limit. I don't think that thing has a top speed greater than 30 miles per hour, but it appears that he slowed down because he knew the zone he was in and did everything he could do to be vigilant as he passed through that area,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

A letter from the school’s principal was sent home to students who are on spring break, reading, in part:

“Antonio Sanchez-Peck was a 10th grader with good attendance, a good attitude, and was liked by many. The circumstances surrounding this terrible accident are still under investigation.  When this occurs during school time, we would typically have a district-wide grief team present for students and staff. However, since this occurred entering spring break, our resources are limited. We do plan to have this grief team present and available beginning the Monday students and staff return from break.  If your student has been directly affected by this event, please do not wait until after spring break to get help. DMPS partners with Unity Point to provide free help at the Student Assistance Center. They can be reached by calling 263-4004.”

The area of the accident is well-traveled; DOT statistics show over 18,000 cars travel past Lincoln every day. Injuries are fairly uncommon, with the most recent numbers showing between 2008 and 2012, there have only been six injuries in the area where Sanchez died. Three of these were minor and three were serious.

“The zone characteristics around schools are set up with safety in mind, but as long as everyone is following the rules and taking the precautions they can whether they're on foot or in a car, the two combine very well,” said Parizek.

There are two cross walks within yards of where the accident happened; however, students have been known to ignore them and cross through the median. Des Moines Public Schools say they will review accident data with the city to determine if any safety improvements need to be made, but say the final decision rests with Des Moines.