By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Vehicular manslaughter trial date set
Placeholder Image
Larry Dale Duke, the pickup driver who on Feb. 9 ran into a group of student pedestrians near Mae Hensley Junior High School, killing one and seriously injuring two others, will be in court later this month.

The district attorney's office is charging the Ceres resident with gross vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and use of a controlled substance. Duke was ordered to appear in court for a pretrial hearing on Oct. 17 by Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Ricardo Cordova with his trial to begin Oct. 25.

Danielle Tarancon, 13, was killed in the crash.

Duke's arrest came after over two weeks of investigation and the results of the toxicology report.

Now 46, Duke was driving a raised Chevy pickup southbound on Darwin Avenue at 8:58 a.m. on Feb. 9 when approaching Fowler Road at Smyrna Park. Witnesses say Duke failed to stop at the stop sign as it was turning left onto eastbound Fowler Road. The pickup rolled over Tarancon, and also struck Nancy Zavala, dragging her across the intersection, as well as running over Jessica Garcia, who reportedly sustained a broken hip.

A total of five students, all aged 13 and 14, were hit.

Duke has a troubled driving history and medical issues. Following the accident, Duke had been hospitalized for a rapid heartbeat. He told Fox 40 reporter Rowena Shaddox that he had been experiencing falling asleep during the day for approximately two months. He said he didn't see a doctor about the condition because his insurance was cancelled after he lost his job as a truck driver.

Duke was the driver of a Peterbilt dump truck who ran into the rear of a Ford Expedition on Sept. 17, 2010 while traveling northbound Highway 99 near Faith Home Road overpass. In that incident, traffic was slowing down but Duke failed to brake and ended up seriously injuring a seven-year-old Keyes boy, Adrian Orozco, and his parents, Juan and Myra Orozco, 32, and 31 respectively. In the Keyes crash, Duke said he couldn't see well because the sun was in his eyes and had to swerve out of his lane but crashed anyway.

Duke issued a statement to the TV station saying he didn't know what happened in the fatal crash, and expressed remorse to the families of the victims.