Arizona teen sentenced in UTV crash that killed 14-year-old girl

A teen boy was sentenced in the death of 14-year-old Gillian Ragan after Arizona prosecutors say the teen negligently drove the UTV that crashed and killed her.

Because this happened in juvenile court on Tuesday, May 14, cameras could not be inside, and the name of the teen charged, or identifying factors like his parent's names, can not be shared either.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed with this fact: The teen, while operating a Polaris UTV, crashed it because of criminal negligence, which caused Ragan's death.

The crash happened last year on Dec. 9 around 1 a.m. The UTV reportedly had eight juveniles in it.

In a letter to parents, Chaparral High School Principal Joshua Pantier confirmed the victim to be Gillian Ragan, a 9th-grade student at the school.

Gillian Ragan

‘We are all so very, very sorry for Gillian’s family …’

With large pictures of their daughter in hand, Gillian Ragan’s parents stepped out of the Mesa juvenile courtroom.

Too overcome with emotion to speak, the Ragan family attorney Mark Breyer spoke on their behalf.

"Gillian was not a normal 14-year-old. She was born with very serious physical issues, and she overcame them to an unbelievable degree," he said. "When people see this and think, ‘Oh, a 14-year-old lost her life and her parents are sad,’ they have no idea the beautiful child that was lost and what she overcame from the time of her birth, and all the surgeries, and a family that defied the odds, so can rehabilitation be enough? Can what happened in the juvenile system be enough? Nothing is enough."

The 14-year-old teen identified as the driver appeared in court to learn of his consequences.

In their victim impact statements, both Ragan's mom and dad said the teen was told to slow down by other passengers, but he instead sped up.

The judge ordered probation until the age of 18, community service, restitution, apology notes to victims, and an essay or video on traffic safety.

"This is not a statement about the judge who had a job to do, and did the best he could, but the juvenile system is not fully comforting for a family who lost their beautiful, innocent, amazing 14-year-old girl," Breyer said.

Why the teens were there, who, if anyone, allowed them to use the UTV, and other details leading up to Ragan's death, remain unknown.

"There are a lot of answers that this family doesn’t have, because a beautiful 14-year-old girl should not lose her life while a 14-year-old is driving a vehicle that there shouldn’t be keys to and access to, with a bunch of kids in, with no helmets, and no restraints, that allows this to happen, when you believe that your daughter has gone on a sleepover. There are questions that haven’t been answered on how this happened," Breyer said.

They're questions that Ragan's family vows to answer with their lawsuit.

"You can be sure that we are going to leave no stone unturned to get the answers to these questions, that the civil justice system will allow us to get, and then hold people to the fullest degree accountable, in that setting," Breyer said.

Ragan's family has filed a lawsuit in civil court where they are working on depositions.

The family of the teen driver released a statement, saying, "We are all so very, very sorry for Gillian’s family and the other victims. We cannot imagine what any of them are going through. We know there is nothing anyone can do to undo this harm, and hope and pray that they find some comfort in Gillian’s memory."