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Ventura Teen at Fault in Crash that Kills Woman, Dog

By Renee Nordstrand on September 16, 2009

A sixteen-year-old Ventura resident was determined to be at fault after he struck and killed a sixty-year-old woman, Susan Herman, and her dog on August 24 on Shoreline Drive.

Ms. Herman, who investigators believe was in the crosswalk when she was hit, died shortly after the accident at the hospital. Her dog was killed instantly.  While the boy was traveling at a low rate of speed at 25 m.p.h, police believe inattention contributed to the crash.

Reactions to the police’s determination that the boy was at fault have been mixed. Some local residents have raised questions regarding the visibility of the cross walk sign on Shoreline Drive, near Surfer’s Point, expressing concerns that the cross walk is on a curved road and is not clearly identified.

For others, the situation leads to questions on the legal driving age.  Some feel sixteen-year-olds aren’t ready to take on the roads on their own, and would like this situation to further the push for an older age of eighteen for driver’s license eligibility.

New Jersey, the only state which issues licenses at age 17, has consistently lower rates of teens killed in crashes than other states which issues licenses at 15.5 or 16.

According to, California had 524 accidents involving teenagers aged 16 to 18 last year.

While no legislation has been passed to raise the California driving age, California is leading the way in banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.  Further, California does not allow anyone under the age of 18 to drive between midnight and 5 a.m.

In the aftermath of a tragedy such as this, we offer our heartfelt thoughts to the families of both Susan Herman and the boy who hit her.