- The Washington Times - Friday, June 10, 2016

A teenage boy died Tuesday after the vehicle he was riding in was rear-ended by a police officer who had become distracted by his computer, authorities said.

Officer Jim Gamble of the California Highway Patrol was behind the wheel of his pickup truck Tuesday afternoon when his vehicle collided with the back of a Hyundai Elantra, the CHP said Thursday.

Willows resident Weston Sites, 15, was in the back seat of the Elantra and died as a result of the crash. His two teenage sisters, also in the vehicle, were treated for minor injuries and released.

Authorities said Mr. Gamble, a 20-year veteran of the force, had been looking away from the road when his marked truck entered a construction zone and crashed into the stopped Elantra in Orland, about 100 miles north of Sacramento.

“His attention was diverted away from the road, looking down at I believe his computer. When he looked up traffic was slowing and coming to a stop, applied his brakes and rear-ended the vehicle that was in front of him which subsequently got pushed into two other vehicles that were stopped,” Sgt. Tony Odell of the California Highway Patrol told CBS affiliate KHSL-TV.

“The CHP extends our deepest condolences to the family of the teenager who was killed in this collision, and our wishes for a smooth recovery for those injured,” the police agency said in a statement.

Authorities have not yet made an official determination with regard to the cause of the crash, but CHP Assistant Chief Todd Garr told Sacramento’s KCRA News that investigators may consider ruling the accident as a result of distracted driving.

“That may have been a component in this investigation, but there may have been others,” he said. “We don’t want to be premature in saying this was the cause of the accident.”

The incident remains under investigation, and the results of the probe will eventually be forwarded to the Glenn County District Attorney’s Office where authorities will determine whether or not to file charges, the official told KCRA.

Mr. Garr remained on active duty as of Thursday, a CHP public information official told the Chico Enterprise-Record.

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