Tahlequah Daily Press

July 9, 2013

Vigil slated for teen killed by car

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — A candlelight vigil will be held tonight in Hulbert in memory of a local teenager who was hit and killed by a vehicle early Sunday morning in Tahlequah.

Oscar Landaverde lost his life after he was struck by a vehicle on a stretch of the State Highway 51 bypass, between Stick Ross Mountain Road and West Fourth Street.

The vigil in his memory will begin at 8:30 p.m. at the Hulbert High School football field. Pastors and counselors will be available to offer grief support.

Tahlequah Chief of Police Nate King said a passerby called for help shortly after 4 a.m. after coming upon the scene. Landaverde and a second teenager, identified as James Clay, were both transported to a local hospital. Clay suffered non-lethal injuries, but Landaverde died about an hour later.

Police considered the incident a hit-and-run crash, and began urging the driver of the vehicle to come forward. Later Sunday, a 16-year-old girl told police she had been driving the vehicle that struck Landaverde and Clay.

Authorities were granted access to the girl’s vehicle and checked it for evidence. She and her parents provided a written statement about the incident, King said.

“That [statement] and the factors of the incident are being looked at to determine what, if any, crime was committed,” said King.

Police did not release details of the girl’s statement Monday, but said they have more interviews to conduct before turning the investigation over to the District Attorney’s Office.

King said investigators are set to interview Clay Tuesday evening.

Clay has already told a Tulsa TV station he and Landaverde were walking home from Walmart after buying a game and some snacks Sunday morning.

“We was walking back to his house, taking breaks, and on one of the breaks, a maroon car just came up and hit us,” he told one TV station. “It hit me first in the arm, and then it hit [Landaverde] twice.”

According to King, the area of impact was determined to be within the eastbound lane of the bypass, along a stretch of road where the speed limit is 55 mph.

“Information gathered during the investigation thus far is the two boys were walking home from Walmart ... and stopped to rest at approximately 4 a.m.,” King said in a statement. “The boys were either kneeling or lying on the roadway when they were struck by the driver’s vehicle.”

King said police have no reason to believe the driver of the vehicle was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She had left her parents’ home before the incident, he said.

Police haven’t released the age of the victims; however, a Channel 2 report said Clay is 15. Landaverde’s age hasn’t been confirmed, but he had apparently been a student at Hulbert.