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Driver Turns Himself In Teen Who Fled Scene Of Fatal Accident Faces Vehicular Homicide Charge

Sat., March 2, 1996

A Spokane Valley teenager turned himself in to police Friday morning, 12 hours after fleeing an accident that killed Anna Sherman, 16.

Accompanied by his parents and an attorney, Anthony R. Lazanis, 19, surrendered to the Washington State Patrol about 9 a.m. Fearing the grief-stricken Lazanis might carry out a threat to kill himself, troopers used a bloodhound to search for him after the one-car accident Thursday night.

Former classmates of Lazanis said he often talked about suicide and tried to kill himself in an alcohol-related car accident after a soccer game two years ago.

On Friday, detectives questioned Lazanis and booked him into the Spokane County Jail, where he is awaiting a Monday arraignment on charges of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and hit and run.

Lazanis lost control of the Ford Bronco he was driving on Northwood Drive at about 9 p.m. Thursday. The speeding vehicle, carrying four passengers, ran off the road, plowed through a yard and toppled over in a driveway, troopers said.

WSP Sgt. Chris Powell said the teens, including Lazanis, had been drinking.

Sherman was partially ejected from the Bronco, which rolled on top of her. She died of internal injuries in the driveway. She was not wearing a seat belt.

Injured were former West Valley students Joel N. Johnson, 16; Loren C. Gravos, 18, and Paula L. Riojas, 13, a Centennial Middle School student.

Bloodied and shaken, the trio hobbled two blocks to Sherman’s home on Northwood Drive. There, they met Sherman’s father, Timothy.

“They were screaming ‘He was driving crazy! Anna’s dead! Anna’s dead!”’ Timothy Sherman said.

He ran toward his daughter.

The three teens were taken to Valley Hospital and Medical Center, then treated and released.

After the crash, Lazanis ran into the woods, vowing to kill himself, Powell said. Troopers used a blood-hound to track Lazanis more than three miles to his parents’ house at 7209 E. Euclid, Powell said. Troopers did not find him there.

Thursday’s accident was not the first serious alcohol-related crash in which Lazanis has been involved.

The former West Valley High School soccer standout got drunk and slammed his car into a tree two years ago, after a disappointing loss in the district playoffs, said his grandfather, Tony Lazanis.

Classmates said Lazanis, a 1995 graduate, told them at the time he was trying to kill himself. Christa Sherman, Anna’s older sister, said she used to be close friends with Lazanis, but stopped talking to him after his first accident.

“It was like he was a totally different person,” she said.

Several West Valley students received counseling Friday, and some of Sherman’s friends left school early. A moment of silence was observed during sixth-period classes.

Dozens of West Valley students also drove by the accident site.

Dion Ortega and four friends filed out of his gray Nissan Friday afternoon. Ortega stared silently at the bloodstains on the driveway and the broken glass scattered in a flowerbed, while Stacey Morrow and Dawn Scarpelli hugged behind him.

“We loved her a lot,” Ortega said.

Morrow said she had talked to Sherman on the phone about 1 p.m. Thursday. Sherman told her she was drinking at Lazanis’ house, Morrow said.

On Friday, friends and family remembered Anna Sherman’s love of singing and dancing. She idolized pop singer Mariah Carey and had recorded two songs for an album she hoped to make.

The 16-year-old’s dreams died two blocks from home.

“She was on her way home,” said Sherman’s 14-year-old brother, Samuel. “That’s what they told me.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 color photos

Tags: Death

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