Tennessee teen charged as juvenile in deadly DUI crash
Tennessean female teen charged in deadly DUI crash
May 2015, a deadly crash happened off of Highway 385. A 17 year old girl, Sterling Panchikal, is facing charges, and even though one person was killed, the teenager is only being tried as a juvenile. Neighbors said that Panchikal deserves to be in jail and tried as an adult instead of being allowed to live at her home in Collierville. "When you get behind that wheel, you're taking responsibility," neighbor Alex Fernwalt said. These charges, coupled with the fact that juvenile sentensing is the maximum she would face for her actions, has proven to be a very difficult and emotionally charged situation to navigate for not only neighbors, but those directly affected by her decisions and the loss of life now attached to those decisions.
It has been documented, that Panchikal was the driver in a four vehicle accident in which one person was killed and several others were injured. According to these court documents, Panchikal drifted across the median and struck two oncoming cars. The documents also show that a Field Sobriety Test was taken, and Xanax, marijuana, and the antidepressant Citalopram were all in her system. Panchikal refused to comment at all on the accident.
Court documents state that Panchikal was texting and making calls on her cell phone before the accident. Investigators found an open bag of marijuana, a pill bottle, and vodka bottles in her car. She has been charged with the following:
- vehicular homicide
- reckless endangerment
- more, to be determined
All of these charges are only going to be established with her as a juvenile.
"All the court system does is spank their hands and tell them they are bad little kids and send them on their way, and that's not the way it is supposed to be," said Fernwalt. Carlos Hood says he and Sterling are best friends and attend Houston High together, "When we hangout, she's pretty cool and laid back". Hood would not answer any questions regarding her accusations. "Like I said, I am not going to get into any details. That's between her and her parents for what she did."
A prosecutor would have to request a transfer hearing at juvenile court for the case to be tried in an adult court. That was not something being sought after within a timely manner.