by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:
NORCROSS, Ga. - Police said an unlicensed 16-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, killing his 17-year-old passenger.
Paul Strickland was ejected from the SUV when it rolled over on Beaver Ruin Road in Norcross in late June.
The crash landed the 16-year-old and his parents in jail. Police say the 16-year-old's parents allowed him to drive around without them and with his friends.
Police said SUV rolled multiple times, ejecting Strickland on June 23.
"It's still unreal for me to see that he's not here," Paul's brother Herschel Walker told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.
Paul's family said it's difficult to accept he's gone because they believe his death was preventable. He wasn't wearing a seat belt.
The teenaged driver, whom we are not identifying due to his age, is charged with vehicular homicide, speeding, and racing.
Police said Santiago Rivas Garcia and Maria Elena Rodriguez Martinez allowed their son to drive their car without the proper supervision.
"All he did was switch lanes and I don't know how he lost control of his car," said Jesus Cardenas, who was also in the car the night when the driver lost control.
Cardenas said the group of friends, that included the driver's 12-year-old brother, had been party hopping.
"I bust my door open and I see Paul just lying on the floor. He wasn't breathing," Cardenas said.
Cardenas said he and the driver were the only passengers wearing their seatbelts.
Friends and family said Strickland was always smiling and positive about life. They now hope his death won't be in vain.
"The only thing positive that I want to come out of it is these kids wear seatbelts. Just know life is too short," Walker said.
The driver's father, Rivas remains in the Gwinnett County Jail with an immigration hold.
Kavanaugh attempted to speak to Martinez. She bonded out of jail but wasn't home when Kavanaugh stopped by.
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