Two men are jailed Thursday without bail and facing potential state prison terms after being convicted for their roles in a crash in Torrance that fatally injured a 16-year-old high school baseball player and seriously injured his father nearly three years ago.
Darryl Leander Hicks Jr., 31, and Tung Ming, 24, were found guilty late Wednesday of one felony count each of gross vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving causing injury or death, according to Deputy District Attorney Ryan Gould.
Hicks was also convicted of one felony count each of hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person and hit-and-run driving resulting in specified injury, along with one misdemeanor count each of hit-and-run driving causing property damage involving an earlier crash into Ming’s vehicle and driving on a suspended license, the prosecutor said. Jurors also found true allegations that Hicks fled the scene of the deadly crash.
The case stems from a March 7, 2017, crash in which South High School student Jesse Esphorst Jr. died and his father was hurt.
A 2004 Audi A6 driven by Hicks — who lived in Los Angeles at the time — and a 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 driven by Ming — who lived in Rancho Palos Verdes — were northbound on Crenshaw Boulevard when the drivers failed to stop for a red light and crashed into the Esphorsts’ 2000 Toyota Sienna, which was turning left from southbound Crenshaw to eastbound Crest Road about 10 that night, according to Torrance police.
The Audi and Mercedes had been involved in a minor collision earlier, and Ming — in the Mercedes — was chasing Hicks — in the Audi — when they both ran the red light, and both hit the Toyota minivan, police said.
“After the collision, the Audi fled northbound on Crenshaw and the driver of the Mercedes GLK350 stayed at the scene,” according to a Torrance police statement. Investigators said the Audi was located a short time later near the scene, unoccupied.
Ming was arrested that morning, then released later that day on bond. Hicks was arrested two days after the crash, and was released a day later on bond.
Both men were ordered to be taken into custody after the jury’s verdict.
At a May 2017 court hearing, Ming’s attorney, Richard A. Hutton, told a judge that his client had been involved in a minor crash with Hicks, called 911 and chased after him.
His client remained at the scene of the deadly crash, was “perfectly sober” and had no criminal record, Hutton said.
Baseball coach Grady Sain told the Daily Breeze that the teen and his father had been on their way home after having dinner with the boy’s grandmother.
A day after the crash, the baseball team gathered on the diamond around the teen’s shortstop position, and that afternoon, about 750 current and former students, coaches and faculty members filled the South High field in his honor.
Hicks and Ming are due back in a Torrance courtroom for sentencing Feb. 26. Hicks is facing up to 12 years in prison, while Ming could face a maximum of six years behind bars, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
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