REDWOOD CITY — A South San Francisco teen faces felony DUI charges for a car crash early Saturday morning that killed a 17-year-old girl from San Jose.
Sean Quintero, 18, was behind the wheel of his mother’s Toyota when it slammed into the back of another car on Highway 101 at roughly 3:20 a.m. near Sierra Point Parkway in Brisbane, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe and the California Highway Patrol.
Margaret Qaqish, 17, was sitting in the back seat and died after being thrown forward by the impact. Three other passengers also suffered minor injuries. Everyone in the car had been drinking before the wreck, Wagstaffe said.
The girl’s mother, Raya Qaqish, 39, of South San Francisco, said her daughter would have turned 18 this Saturday.
“She was full of energy, full of life,” her mother said. “She lit up the room when she walked in.”
Raya Qaqish said she wasn’t sure if her daughter was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash and police didn’t immediately release that information.
Quintero was arraigned Monday afternoon in San Mateo County Superior Court on several felony charges including vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, gross negligence and driving under the influence causing injury, said Wagstaffe. The teen was ordered held without bail and faces up to 11 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors said the driver and his passengers, all of whom were 17 or 18 years old, had gone to the Serra
Bowl on Junipero Serra Boulevard in Daly City and then to a party on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco. They were driving toward South San Francisco when the crash happened.
Prosecutors said Quintero was talking with the passengers about the music on the stereo and was not paying attention to the road. Suddenly, traffic appeared in front of them — a separate crash had caused a back up on the freeway. Quintero spotted the cars at the last minute and swerved to avoid them. His vehicle shot across two lanes of traffic and came to a stop when it plowed into the rear of another car. The people in that vehicle were not injured, Wagstaffe said.
Raya Qaqish said her daughter would have graduated from Baden High School in South San Francisco this spring. After that, she had plans to possibly study engineering at Skyline College in San Bruno. She was also interested in pursuing a career in law.
Her mother said other kids should learn something from her daughter’s death — especially if they have been drinking.
“I think they should call their parents or someone they trust who can pick them up,” she said.
Margaret Qaqish’s viewing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Saint Nicholas Orthodox Christian Church at 5200 Diamond Heights Boulevard in San Francisco.
Quintero is due back in court Feb. 15 and remains in San Mateo County jail.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.