EL CAJON (CNS) - A 19-year-old Lakeside resident accused of causing a head-on crash that killed a 74-year-old man in Ramona must stand trial on a felony charge of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Garrett Michael Sparks faces up to six years in state prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Derek Grilz.
Sparks was arrested shortly after the Aug. 29 collision, which occurred on San Vicente Road south of Warnock Drive about 7:40 p.m. The defendant later posted $50,000 bail.
Sparks told authorities he took his eyes off the road for at least 10 seconds while he was reaching for items that had fallen onto his truck's floorboard from the passenger seat, the California Highway Patrol reported.
His southbound 2007 Ford Ranger drifted into oncoming traffic at about 50 mph and stuck a northbound 2000 Ford Ranger driven by Kenneth Frederick Crane of Ramona.
Crane was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple blunt force injuries, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office. Sparks was uninjured.
Investigators determined alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
Judge Lantz Lewis ruled that enough evidence was presented at Sparks' preliminary hearing for him to proceed to trial on the manslaughter charges and driving to the left of a double-yellow line, an infraction.
The judge scheduled a readiness conference for Feb. 10 and trial for March 10.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled Tuesday for a former San Diego police officer accused of groping four women during pat-down searches last year.
Chula Vista police will be looking for drivers talking or texting on cell phones Tuesday and through the end of the month as part of "Distracting Driving Awareness Month."
Police were on the lookout Tuesday for the man who fired a shot while robbing a Rolando-area smoke shop and his accomplice who emptied its cash register.