Teen driver charged in crash that killed friend

A teenage driver who ran off a Cherokee County road in June, killing his passenger, is now facing vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges, the sheriff’s office said Monday.

Cameron Childers, 17, broke his arm after his car went down an embankment off Hightower Road and hit a tree June 19.  His friend and passenger, 16-year-old Mahlon Thornton, died at the scene. 

Family members previously told Channel 2 Action News that they believed Childers had fallen asleep at the wheel. 


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“They stayed up all night fishing,” Cynthia Decker, Thornton's guardian, told the news station shortly after the deadly accident. “They were tired and they were probably going pretty fast." 

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According to a Cherokee County sheriff’s crash report, the car was traveling 73 mph upon impact with the tree.

Mahlon Thornton (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

The teenager’s parents told the news station they forgave Childers after the crash. 

"No blame, no blame," the victim's mother, Jenelle Thornton, said in June. “It could have easily been Mahlon driving.”

Since then, authorities have received the results of a toxicology report, which revealed drugs were in Childers’ system at the time of the deadly crash, Cherokee sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Marianne Kelley said Monday. 

Childers surrendered at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center on Friday on charges of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of drugs, reckless driving, weaving over the roadway and speeding. He was released on $14,227 bond.

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