Driver charged with manslaughter, passenger killed after car crashes into tree, splits in half

Driver charged with manslaughter, passenger killed after car crashes into tree, splits in half
According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the incident happened in the area of Archdale Drive and Ashcrest Drive around 3 p.m. (Source: AP)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A driver was charged with involuntary manslaughter after a passenger was killed when a car slammed into a tree and split in half in Charlotte Friday afternoon.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the incident happened in the area of Archdale Drive and Ashcrest Drive around 3 p.m.

Officers responded to the scene and located an unresponsive man outside of a car and the injured driver in the front seat.

Medic arrived on the scene and took the driver, 21-year-old Jose Mario Mejia Gutierrez, to Atrium Health Center and pronounced the passenger, 19-year-old Faustino Israel Ponce Romero, dead on scene. There were no other passengers.

The preliminary investigation indicates that Mejia Gutierrez ran off the road after losing control while exiting a curve.

After leaving the road, the car crashed into a tree with the front passenger door.

The car then split in half with the rear half stopping near the tree, while the front half continued going through a field as Ponce Romero was ejected from the car.

After being released from the hospital, Mejia Gutierrez was taken to CMPD Headquarters voluntarily.

After the interview, Mejia Gutierrez was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, no operators license, failure to maintain insurance on the vehicle, and failing to register the vehicle.

Police say speed is a factor in this crash, however alcohol use is not a contributing factor.

The crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact detectives at 704-432-2169 extension 4.

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