Girl charged in friend's death

A Carson City teen was arrested Wednesday in a fatal crash on Highway 50 East in February that claimed the life of her best friend.

Joni Marie Salvo, 19, is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, failure to obey a traffic device and speeding. She was arrested about 4 p.m. at the Carson City Sheriff's Department.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Carson City Justice Court on May 23, Salvo "drove a white 1992 Ford Ranger pickup truck westbound on U.S. Highway 50 at the intersection of Airport Road at a high rate of speed. ... She proceeded to drive into the intersection without braking and collided with a 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan driven by Rachel Lynn French resulting in blunt-force trauma injuries (to French) from which she died."

The complaint alleges Salvo was driving 60 mph in the 45 mph zone when the accident occurred.

Under Nevada's new misdemeanor manslaughter law passed during the 2005 Legislative Session, the charge applies in cases where a death is the result of the at-fault driver's "simple negligence." Prior to this charge, the most a person could have been charged with was a traffic offense, such as speeding, and the result of the accident would not be recorded on the person's driving record. This is the first time the Carson City District Attorney's Office has charged misdemeanor manslaughter since the law went into effect Oct. 1.

On Feb. 20, Salvo was following her friend, French, 19, to an auto repair shop about 3:15 p.m. when French stopped at a red light at Highway 50 East and Airport Road. Salvo, who said she was choking on a drink at the time of the accident, slammed into the rear of French's vehicle.

French died en route to the hospital. Salvo was taken by helicopter to Washoe Medical Center where she underwent two surgeries to reattach cheek muscle that had been torn from the bone. She also suffered a broken nose and cuts to her lower lip and forehead.

Salvo's bail was set at $5,000.

- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.


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