Teen driver pleads no contest in 2016 fatal crash


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The teen who was behind the wheel at the time of a car crash that killed a 16-year-old girl last spring has entered a plea.

During a Wednesday status conference, Armando Mendoza Jr. pleaded no contest to all the felony charges against him — a count of reckless driving causing death and three counts of reckless driving causing serious injury.

The crash happened in the early hours of April 10, 2016 near the intersection of 9 Mile Road and Vinton Avenue in Alpine Township, north of Grand Rapids. Passenger Alyssa Eggerding, 16, died the next day. Mendoza, then 17; and passengers Kaitlin Keeler, then 16; Olivia Lawrence, then 17; and Alyssa Naughton, then 16, were all hurt. Naughton had to have part of her left leg amputated as a result of her injuries.

Keeler’s mother told 24 Hour News 8 just after the crash that her daughter remembered seeing the speedometer being at 110 mph at some point before the crash.

According to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, Mendoza could not have been legally driving at the time of the crash. He had a graduated driver’s license level 1, meaning he was not allowed to drive without a designated licensed driver over the age of 21 in the car.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but it is treated as a guilty plea at sentencing, which is scheduled for March 7.

The reckless driving causing death charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

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