Documents shed light on crash that killed Gav player

Dennis Leffew has been charged with vehicular manslaughter in the Nov. 6 car crash that killed Gavilan College student Andrel Gaines. 

Dennis Leffew, the San Jose man who was recently charged with vehicular manslaughter in the Nov. 6 crash that later resulted in the death of Gavilan College basketball player Andrel Gaines, turned himself in to police Monday and is being held on $250,000 bail in the San Mateo County Jail, according to Karen Guidotti, chief deputy with the San Mateo County DA’s Office.

“It appears that (Leffew and his lawyer) learned that there was an arrest warrant in the system, and then they came to court and surrendered on Monday,” said Guidotti.

Leffew appeared at his arraignment Monday at the San Mateo County DA’s Office in Redwood City. His plea hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. April 4, according to Guidotti.

Leffew, the 43-year-old driver who crashed his Nissan 300ZX into the Cadillac sedan that was carrying 19-year-old Andrel Gaines and four other friends around 1:30 a.m. Nov. 6, has been charged with:

n Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence

n Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing bodily injury

n Driving with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level causing bodily injury

Leffew also faces allegations of inflicting great bodily injury and inflicting injury to multiple victims. The charges and allegations could spell a maximum 15-year prison sentence if Leffew is convicted, Guidotti said.

Court documents obtained by the Dispatch, however, reveal ambiguity regarding the impact of two collisions that occurred in the early morning hours of Nov. 6 on southbound U.S. 101 in Millbrae.

Gaines and four others – Denise Bravo, 18, of San Juan Bautista; Razelyn Ambrocio, 21, of Santa Cruz and Gaines’ Gavilan College basketball teammates  Davontea Johnson and Billy Heard, who was driving – were heading south to Gilroy after an evening at an 18-and-over San Francisco club called City Nights.

Heard reportedly swerved to avoid a tire in the roadway, causing the black Cadillac sedan to collide with the center median.

As the vehicle rested in the fast lane, Leffew crashed into the Cadillac, the CHP said.

Gaines – who was not wearing a seatbelt, according to court documents – suffered severe brain trauma in the car accident and was put into a medically induced coma following the accident. He died 12 days later Nov. 18 at San Francisco General Hospital.

As the community continues to mourn the young man’s death, the accident report chronicling the incident states that it is “unclear as to what accident caused the severity of (Gaines’) injuries.”

The only information available to investigators is that the first collision occurred at a high rate of speed into the center divide, which caused the Cadillac to spin numerous times, court documents show.

“This could have been a significant, if not the only, factor in causing the passenger’s death,” the case file states.

Furthermore, the roadway was dark, the Cadillac did not have its lights on and there were no hazard lights deployed, according to court documents.

“There was no one giving any indication to oncoming traffic that a vehicle was resting in the middle of the freeway,” the report states.

“The other vehicle, whose tire blew, did not take any action to warn oncoming motorists of a disabled vehicle.”

While the CHP “believes that Mr. Leffew was a contributing factor in the collision,” court documents show there is no evidence of excessive speed, reckless driving or otherwise negligent conduct.

There is, however, “comparative fault” on behalf of driver Billy Heard, who “did not remain in the roadway and went out of control for no reason,” according to some witnesses cited in the case file.

One CHP officer could not find any debris in the road that would have caused the Cadillac to crash into the center divide, according to court documents.

Leffew – who was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the Nov. 6 accident and still suffers from facial scarring and head trauma – is a lifetime resident of the Bay Area who is employed in marketing and sales, court documents show.

He has a 15-year-old son, for whom he provides child support. Leffew has no known criminal history and has had “good driving history for many years,” according to the case file.

Prior to turning himself in Monday, Leffew was living in San Jose with his girlfriend.

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