A judge has denied the request from a defense attorney to let a teen keep her passport in order to go on a cruise she had booked for graduation.
On Thursday, April 26, 2017, Cristina Pavon-Baker and her best friend Makayla Penn (see video below), 18 had just celebrated senior prom the weekend before, and they were looking forward to spring break. Penn and Pavon-Baker both applied to and were accepted to the University of Georgia for 2018.
Cristina Pavon-Baker, 17, a student at Community Christian School in Stockbridge, Georgia was arrested and charged with first-degree vehicular homicide and misdemeanor charges of speeding and reckless driving. Pavon-Baker crashed the Mini Cooper she driving while traveling to Southlake Mall in Morrow, Georgia on Senior Skip Day. The two girls were heading to the mall to shop for an upcoming beach trip over spring break.
Police recovered data from the Mini Cooper’s airbag module that indicated the car’s speed at 106 miles an hour. Investigators say Baker was attempting to navigate the Jonesboro Road ramp curve at exit 233, although four signs are posted at this ramp that indicate a sharp curve ahead. Prosecutors said Baker lost control of the car and flipped it multiple times.
A Georgia State Patrol spokesperson said, “After veering off the roadway, the vehicle struck a fallen tree in a nearby wooded area and then crashed into a standing tree, impacting the Mini Cooper’s right side and top.” The “right side” is the passenger side of the vehicle where Penn was sitting. (as shown in photo below)
The Clayton News Daily reported, “I am very proud of the compassion shown by our officers today,” Morrow Police Chief Jimmy Callaway said in a post to the department’s Facebook page. “The parents of the victim of this crash actually came to the crash site. We had to make sure they did not go up to the car. Today I saw tough cops holding a devastated mother. Today I saw tough cops hugging a lost Father. Say a prayer for this family tonight and tell your kids you love them.”
Penn died at the scene, but Pavon-Baker was able to crawl out from under the wreckage and was taken Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, reported in “critical condition”.
In court, Pavon-Baker’s defense attorney Jackie Patterson made a request which shocked and upset Penn’s parents, who were in attendance at the court hearing.”We would ask the court to allow her to leave the state and not put that restriction on her,” Patterson said. Pavon-Baker had booked was planning to go on a cruise with her family in May and needed permission from the court to travel outside of the state.
“If you look at her history, these parents have covered for her over and over and over again. I believe in my heart of hearts Ms. Penn would be alive if this child had some consequences,” Lawson said. Lawson was referring to other traffic troubles Pavon-Baker has had in the past. “She doesn’t need to be on a cruise enjoying herself,” Lawson argued .
Pavon-Baker was given a $31,000 bond and was ordered to surrender her passport, stay off Snapchat and not drive as a condition of her bond.
According to District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson, investigators are still looking into whether Pavon-Baker was using Snapchat while driving. Cruise Bruise has learned, that apparently, it has become a challenge for young drivers to get the speed filter over 100 mph.
In a statement to CBS News on the topic of speed filter , Snapchat said: “We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving.” A “do not Snap and drive” warning message is displayed in the app itself the first time the speed filter is used and every time the user exceeds speeds above 15 mph.
In another Georgia case, a judge has dismissed claims against Snapchat that blamed the social media company’s “speed filter” for a highway crash. The judge said the Communications Decency Act provides the social media company with immunity.
Wentworth and Karen Maynard sued Snapchat and the driver, Christal McGee, in April 2017, saying McGee was trying to reach 100 mph on a highway south of Atlanta when her car hit theirs, sending it across the left lane and into an embankment. The collision in September 2015 left Wentworth Maynard with brain damage.
Actions can have consequences, in spite of parental intervention. Perhaps, Pavon-Baker will begin to see that cruising instead of mourning the friend she recklessly killed was personally heartless, unconscionable, selfish as well as disrespectful to Penn’s family. But, does she spend time in jail for the death of her college-bound friend and does her family go on the cruise without her? Watch this space for the update.
Video:’Horrific’ crash claims the life of teen on ‘senior skip day’