Yakima Co. driver charged with killing teen worker with car

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — A man who authorities said drove his car over a teenage girl in a Yakima County field was charged in federal court with involuntary manslaughter.

Joshua Cole Sampson, 34, was charged in U.S. District Court with the June 1 death of 17-year-old Petrona Mendez Ruiz, The Yakima Herald reported Sunday.

Sampson was scheduled to be arraigned Monday and had not been appointed a lawyer by Monday morning.

The federal charge came after Sampson faced initial prosecution in Yakama Tribal Court. Sampson is Native American and tribal authorities took over the case at the accident scene.

Sampson’s SUV left the roadway and ran over Ruiz while she was working in the field on the Yakama Indian Reservation, authorities said.

Yakima County sheriff’s deputies at the scene reported Sampson had been drinking.

Intoxicated drivers who cause a fatality typically face felony vehicular homicide in state court, but tribal courts lack authority to prosecute felony crimes, authorities said.

A trial date has not yet been scheduled.

Roberto Mendez Garcia, Ruiz’s father, said he and his daughter came to the U.S. from Guatemala in March to work and send money home to his wife and four other children.

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