According to the California Highway Patrol, [Kurt Duncan] Naegele, [Ryan Robert] Doheny, Doheny’s brother-in-law Darren William Dahlman, 38, of Pasadena, and Christopher H. Pennell of Los Angeles, had been drinking as guests invited to a birthday party on the San Simeon ranch on Sept. 18, 2009.
They drove to the airstrip to find out how fast Naegele’s Range Rover could go, something a CHP investigator claims Doheny later told him was a bad idea because it was pitch black out and Naegele was driving very fast and erratically. Around 11 p.m., the Range Rover rolled several times
before falling down a steep embankment 300 feet off the runway on the north side of the airstrip.
The crash killed Dahlman, seriously injured Naegele (who had to be extricated from behind the steering wheel) and also injured Pennell and Doheny. Naegele and Doheny estimated to officers that they had been traveling 35 mph at the time of the crash, but CHP investigators who examined the skid marks and other evidence at the scene determined they were going more like 105 mph.
Here’s where things get strange: Naegele maintains that Doheny was actually driving the vehicle, but rather than take the case to trial, he cut a plea deal for a year in custody and four years of probation.
Footnote: I was on jury duty in a similar case, where a drunk guy drove a car full of drunks into a tree, pinning himself behind the steering wheel, then claimed in court that he wasn’t the driver. You gotta say something, right?
Result? Hung jury. You can always count on three idiots out of 12 who believe that anything’s possible.