2 Drivers Charged in Crash That Killed 16-Year-Old Torrance Baseball Player: DA’s Office

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Two drivers who allegedly fatally struck a 16-year-old Torrance baseball player in a minivan as they were involved in a chase stemming from an earlier hit-and-run collision have both been charged with felony vehicular manslaughter, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.

Jesse Esphorst is shown April 13, 2016, during the Pioneer League baseball opener. (Credit: Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze )

Additionally, 28-year-old Darryl Leander Hicks Jr., and 21-year-old Tung Ming each face a count of reckless driving on a highway causing injuries and death, according to a DA’s news release.

The vehicular manslaughter charge also includes allegations that Hicks and Ming inflicted great bodily injury on another person.

Hicks has also been charged with two separate felony counts of hit-and-run driving, and a misdemeanor count of driving when privileges have been suspended or revoked, prosecutors said.

Both are scheduled to be arraigned in Torrance on Thursday.

The charges stem from a series of collisions on March 7 that began when Hicks, in a 2004 Audi A6, allegedly crashed into Ming’s vehicle — a 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 — near Crenshaw Boulevard and Spring Spur Road in Rancho Palos Verdes and fled the scene. Ming then pursued Hicks’ car, prosecutors said.

Both defendants allegedly ran a red light on Crenshaw near Crest Road shortly after 10 p.m. and slammed into a 2009 Toyota Sienna that was making a left turn, according to prosecutors and the Torrance Police Department.

Jesse Esphorst Jr., 16, was in the minivan and died in the crash, authorities said.

The driver, his 47-year-old father, was seriously injured and initially hospitalized in an intensive care unit.

Esphorst played shortstop at South High School in Torrance, where he was a sophomore. He and his father were returning from a post-game dinner at the teen’s grandmother’s house when the fatal collision occurred, the baseball team’s coach told the Daily Breeze.

Esphorst had just played in a game hours before his death, the newspaper reported.

Hicks — who is also accused of fleeing the scene of the second crash — faces a possible maximum sentence of more than 12 years in state prison if convicted on the charges; Ming, who remained at the second collision site, could face 9 years in state prison.


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