Trial ordered for 19-year-old charged in Poway father and son’s DUI deaths

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Support is pouring in for a local family after a deadly car crash took the lives of Steve Pirolli and his 13-year-old son Stephen as they were leaving a North County high school. (Photo provided by Tom Pirolli)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An unlicensed 19-year-old driver who was allegedly under the influence of drugs when he plowed into another vehicle at high speeds on a Poway road — killing a man and his 13-year-old son — was ordered Monday to stand trial on charges that include gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Donald Lee Farmer, who prosecutors allege was under the influence of marijuana and Xanax at the time of the crash, is charged in the Feb. 12 deaths of 54-year-old Stephen Pirolli and his teenage son, Stephen Pirolli Jr.

The Pirollis’ Toyota was broadsided at around 7 p.m. on Espola Road. The elder Pirolli died at the scene, while his son was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to preliminary hearing testimony, the younger Pirolli was attending baseball practice at Poway High School on Feb. 12, and the victims’ car was turning left out a parking lot at the school when it was struck.

Sheriff’s deputy Nathaniel Bier testified that reconstruction of the crash scene indicated Farmer was driving around 90 mph at the time of the crash. The speed limit on that stretch of Espola Road is 45 mph.

Sheriff’s deputy Ryan Christy testified that Farmer told him he was driving around 45-50 mph at the time. He told Christy that the Pirollis’ vehicle was driving in the lane to his right when their car suddenly made a U- turn in front of him, the deputy testified.

Farmer had a learner’s permit, but not a driver’s license at the time. Under California law, drivers with learner’s permits may drive only while a driver’s license holder who is at least 25 years old is riding with them. Farmer was alone in his vehicle when the crash occurred.

One witness told Christy that he rushed to the crash scene to assist victims and pulled Farmer out of his car. Farmer allegedly asked the witness to get his marijuana out of the car.

Bier testified that 10 to 15 THC cartridges used in e-cigarettes were found inside Farmer’s trunk and that more cartridges were found dumped in nearby bushes. Christy testified that Farmer said he had smoked marijuana and taken Xanax at around 10 or 11 a.m. that morning.

Farmer was arrested in May.

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