San Jose Students Mourn Fiery Crash Victim

Tuesday, Sep 21, 2010  |  Updated 8:44 PM PDT
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One man died and second faces serious charges following a violent crash in the South Bay.

One man died and second faces serious charges following a violent crash in the South Bay.

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Leland High School Rocked by Fiery Crash

One friend died and another sits in jail in an apparent alcohol-related crash.
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The driver of a Ford Explorer that crashed in San Jose early Tuesday morning, killing a teenage passenger, has been arrested on a drunken driving charge.

Both people involved in the crash were recent graduated of nearby Leland High School.  Friends identified the person who died as Roshan Rahbari.

Police said the driver is Mitchell Pennings, an 18-year-old San Jose resident.  Friends say both Rahbari and Penning graduated last June.

People who were with them last night said that Penning had been drinking and that people had tried to take away his keys prior to the crash.

"I'm really just distraught right now. I'm shocked. But my words are like, have some designated driver help you if you're planning on driving. I mean please take it safe," friend Andrew Kendrick said.

The crash ended in an explosion and fire along Almaden Expressway near O'Grady Drive at about 3 a.m.
     
Police said the driver lost control and crashed into a light pole and possibly a tree prior to catching fire.

When officers arrived, they found Rahbari trapped in the burning car. He was pronounced dead at the  scene.
     
Pennings was located down the street a short time later.
     
"We have reason to believe he was trying to hide and flee from  officers," officer Jose Garcia said.

Officers detected alcohol on his breath, Garcia said.
     
"It's a wakeup call to everyone around here who thinks they're invincible. People are going to have to learn from it," friend Emily Childress said.

Pennings was taken to a hospital with minor injuries and then  booked into Santa Clara County's main jail on charges of felony DUI, fleeing  the scene of a crash and vehicular manslaughter.

Garcia said police are awaiting the results of Pennings' blood  test to determine his blood-alcohol content.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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