A young man who drove unlicensed and 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 — pleaded guilty Monday to charges that include gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Donald Lee Farmer, 20, was under the influence of marijuana and Xanax at the time of the Feb. 12, 2021, crash that killed 54-year-old Stephen Pirolli and his teenage son, Stephen Pirolli Jr., according to prosecutors.
Following his pleas Monday morning to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of driving without a license, Farmer faces between four and eight years in state prison when he is sentenced on June 30.
The Pirollis’ Toyota was broadsided at about 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 of 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.
–City News Service