Deputy faces manslaughter after killing pedestrians with patrol car

Deputy faces manslaughter after killing pedestrians with patrol car
Deputy John Swearengin's patrol car is seen Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, after it struck two pedestrians in Oildale.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Kern County deputy will be criminally charged for allegedly killing two pedestrians with his patrol car in December.

The district attorney's office announced Friday that it will prosecute Deputy John Swearengin with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. The California Highway Patrol concluded its nine-month investigation last month, determining Swearengin was at fault.

Swearengin was en route to a report of a stolen vehicle with a suspect on the scene when his patrol car slammed into 24-year-old Daniel Hiler and 30-year-old Chrystal Jolley, who were pushing a motorcycle across Norris Road in Oildale.

Investigators determined Swearengin was driving 84.9 mph on Norris Road, which has a posted sign of 45 mph. At the point of impact with the pedestrians, the CHP found Swearengin to be traveling at 64.4 mph.

Swearengin also didn't have his emergency lights and siren activated prior to or at the time of the crash, the CHP determined. Officers can travel faster than the speed limit if going "code 3" during an emergency, but they must have their emergency lights and siren activated.

The families of Hiler and Jolley have filed wrongful death claims against Kern County in the wake of the crash.