Bulletin Staff Report

The 16-year-old boy at the wheel of a pickup truck that crashed on China Hat Road Friday afternoon, injuring eight, was not licensed to drive.

At about 3 p.m. Friday, deputies with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a motor-vehicle accident on China Hat Road near milepost 13, according to a sheriff’s office press release. All eight occupants in the vehicle, ranging in age from 15- to 17-years-old, were injured, and two were air-lifted to St. Charles Bend. The truck was carrying four girls and four boys.

According to a Saturday evening press release from the sheriff’s office, the unlicensed driver lost control of the truck, a 2001 Ford F350 crew cab, as it was heading westbound on China Hat Road at milepost 13. The truck hit a juniper tree next to the road, ejecting a teen riding in the bed. Of the seven teens in the cab, only three were wearing seatbelts.

The sheriff’s office believes the truck was speeding and being driven recklessly at the time of the accident. Marijuana impairment also may have been a contributing factor.

The teen driving the truck has been cited on a number of charges, including assault and reckless driving, and released. He is no longer hospitalized.

All eight of the truck’s occupants, three of whom remained hospitalized Saturday in critical condition, are students of Marshall High School and Mt. View High School in Bend.

The sheriff’s office has not identified any of the teens involved in the accident.