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Meridian man charged with manslaughter in crash that killed 2 teens

Investigators say Thomas Hunt ran a stop sign just before the wreck that killed two of his young passengers.
Credit: Ada County Jail
Thomas Hunt

CANYON COUNTY, Idaho — A 20-year-old Meridian man has been arrested in connection with a crash that killed two of his teenage passengers in 2018. 

Thomas Lawrence Hunt was booked into the Ada County Jail on Thursday on two misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter. 

The charges come a year and a half after the deadly Canyon County collision that killed 17-year-old Makiaya Lucas and 18-year-old Zachary Newman the night of July 28, 2018.

According to Idaho State Police, Hunt was driving north on Robinson Road when he ran the stop sign at the intersection of Kuna Road south of Nampa. 

Hunt's Chevy Trailblazer smashed into an eastbound Subaru driven by 32-year-old Jacob Ware of Kuna. Traffic on Kuna Road was not required to stop, according to investigators.

RELATED: Police: 2 killed, 7 injured in Canyon County crash

Neither Hunt nor anyone else in his SUV was wearing a seatbelt. Lucas and Newman were both ejected from the Chevy in the crash, and died from their injuries at the scene. 

Hunt and two other passengers in his vehicle - 18-year-old Cameron Woody and 14-year-old LeAnn Wilcox  - were taken by ambulance to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

The people in the car Hunt struck - Jacob Ware, Jennifer Ware, and two children - were also taken to a local hospital in a personal vehicle. 

The investigation by Idaho State Police found that it was dark when the crash happened, and that the intersection is in an area with no streetlights. Hunt was not impaired by alcohol or drugs, and was not texting or distracted by anything when he ran the stop sign, according to police. 

RELATED: Prosecutors: 18-year-old was using cell phone when he hit, killed Nampa boy

The Canyon County Prosecutor's Office filed the manslaughter charges in July 2019, although Hunt was not arrested until this week. 

In a criminal complaint, prosecutors noted that the wreck happened because he failed to stop at the stop sign, writing that "the defendant's operation of the motor vehicle in such unlawful manner was a significant cause contributing to the death" of Newman and Lucas. 

Kaiya Lucas

RELATED: Man donates late daughter's car to a stranger

The charges are misdemeanors because prosecutors believe that although Hunt violated traffic rules, he was acting "without gross negligence" when the wreck happened. 

Lucas' father described the 17-year-old as a selflessly giving girl whose final act was to try and shield her friend during the wreck. Roger Elam ultimately decided to donate his late daughter's car to a single mother in Emmett, telling KTVB wanted to honor his daughter by continuing her legacy of generosity. 

Hunt is currently out of custody, and his initial court appearance date has not yet been set. 

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