Competency hearing set for 80-year-old driver in fatal crash | NevadaAppeal.com
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Competency hearing set for 80-year-old driver in fatal crash

by Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service

The lawyer for an 80-year-old man charged in the traffic death last summer of a Carson Valley teenager was granted time for a competency evaluation to determine if his elderly client understands the charges.

Forrest Russell Ladd of Minden is to be examined by a court-approved expert to see if he is competent to enter a plea.

Ladd is facing charges of failure to yield right of way or unsafe left turn in connection with the July 15 death of Bridget Chambers, 17.

According to reports, Ladd was southbound on Highway 395 in his 2005 GMC Envoy. He is accused of colliding with Chambers’ 1996 Toyota Corolla while he was attempting to make a left turn on Stephanie Way.

East Fork Justice Jim EnEarl postponed Ladd’s arraignment Monday until April 19 at the request of lawyer William Cole.

If Ladd is convicted or pleads guilty, the maximum sentence would be six months in Douglas County Jail and a $1,000 fine.

Prosecutor Derrick Lopez said there were no drugs or alcohol involved in the accident or other factors that would raise the level of the offense to a felony.

“As horrific as the accident was – and the consequences were – there was no evidence of willfulness or negligence,” Lopez said.

He said witnesses said there was nothing Chambers could have done to avoid the collision.

He said neither driver was speeding.

“It was a terrible, terrible occurrence,” Lopez said.

Lopez said Ladd voluntarily relinquished his driver’s license.

The delay in prosecution was caused by a number of factors including waiting for the accident report from the Nevada Highway Patrol and reinterviewing some of the witnesses, Lopez said.

Terri Chambers, Bridget’s mother, attended the hearing Monday.

“It’s in competent hands,” she said of the prosecution. “It’s just a no-win situation.”

Following the teenager’s death last summer, family and friends successfully lobbied the state to install a traffic signal at the intersection at Highway 395 and Stephanie Way.

Supporters of “A Light For Bridget” gathered 4,300 signatures in three weeks after her death and a total of 6,000 names by the time the request was was submitted to the state.

Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Magruder said Monday the traffic signal is in design stages and will be presented to Douglas County commissioners.

He said the light would be similar to the traffic device at Johnson Lane and Highway 395 and estimated it would cost about $200,000 that will be paid by Douglas County.

“Our goal is to begin construction on the project by the end of the year,” Magruder said.