2 Drivers Found Guilty of Killing 16-Year-Old Torrance Baseball Player After Running Red Light

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

Two drivers in a crash that killed a 16-year-old baseball player in Torrance three years ago have been found guilty of vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving, officials said Thursday.

Darryl Leander Hicks Jr., 31, of Los Angeles and Tung Ming, 24, of Rancho Palos Verdes were both found guilty Wednesday of one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving on a highway causing injuries and death, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced in a press release.

Hicks, who fled the scene of the incident, was also found guilty of one felony count each of hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person and hit-and-run driving resulting in injury to another person, officials said.

The verdict stems from a series of collisions on March 7, 2017, that killed Jesse E. Esphorst, 16, and seriously injured his 47-year-old father.

Hicks crashed his 2004 Audi A6 into Ming’s 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 near Crenshaw Boulevard and Spring Spur Road in Rancho Palos Verdes and fled the scene. Ming then began chasing Hicks’ car and both men ran a red light near Crenshaw Boulevard and Crest Road around 10 p.m., prosecutors said. They both slammed into the Esphorsts’ 2009 Toyota Sienna as it was making a left turn, according to prosecutors and the Torrance Police Department.

The 16-year-old died in the crash and his father was seriously injured and initially hospitalized in an intensive care unit, authorities said.

Esphorst was a sophomore at South High School in Torrance, where he played shortstop on the baseball team. He and his father were on their way home 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.

Sentencing for Hicks and Ming is scheduled for Feb. 26 in the Torrance Branch of L.A. County Superior Court.

Hicks faces 12 years in state prison and Ming faces 6 years, according to the DA’s office.

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