Fresno teen and young mother killed after DUI driver collides into a palm tree

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A teenage mother has died and a 20-year-old woman faces vehicular manslaughter charges after a crash Wednesday night.

Rayleen White, 17, was a passenger in a car driven by Sidney Kelley of Oakland. Kelley is in the hospital with serious injuries but was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony evading causing a fatal injury, felony DUI and driving unlicensed.

“She had a great sense of humor, she loved to sing. She had a heart for kids she always wanted to be a pediatrician,” said Rayleen White’s mother Kathy. 

Rayleen White just gave birth to her son Xavier seven weeks ago.

“Four o’clock this morning I got a knock on my door by three officers saying my daughter was gone,” said Kathy White.

California Highway Patrol officers said Wednesday night officers observed a car going 25 miles per hour on State Road 99. They suspected the driver, Sidney Kelley, was under the influence of drugs. 

“The speed limit at that location was 70, so as you can imagine, 25 with cars backing up, for us, it’s a red sign definitely for us for a possible DUI driver,” said CHP Madera Public Information Officer Gregorio Rodriguez.

Officers tried to pull the car over, but instead, Kelley took off, exiting on Robertson Blvd., hitting a car at the intersection and leading officers on a chase through Chowchilla. Officers said at one point, they hit 105 miles per hour and crashed into a palm tree on Highway 233 near Avenue 23 1/2, ending the chase and the life of Rayleen White, who was thrown into the back seat. 

“It’s just a senseless thing that happened. It shouldn’t have ever happened,” said Emery Horton who lives across the street from where the crash happened. 

Horton, a former tow truck driver of 26 years, has seen it all and said it’s remarkable anyone survived. 

“There are almost 200 feet of skid marks here on this road all the way into this last tree and one lived? That’s crazy,” said Horton. 

CHP officers said both young women were not wearing their seatbelts. 

Rayleen’s mother, Kathy, said she plans to adopt her grandson Xavier. 

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