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Driver charged in Heritage student’s death

December 28, 2018

When the 2008 Chevy Malibu traveling west crossed the double yellow line on Wayne Trace about 3:15 p.m. Nov. 2, its speed was 93 mph as measured by an airbag control module.

That was three seconds before the car swerved to avoid hitting a white box truck going east. The Malibu, driven by Na Lay, an 18-year-old student at Heritage High School, and carrying five passengers : also Heritage students : crashed into the box truck, flipped several times and landed under a large pine tree, according to court documents.

One of the passengers, Ar Zi Za La, a 17-year-old sophomore, was killed in the crash. Another student was critically injured and three others had minor injuries, as did Lay.

Lay was charged Wednesday with five counts of criminal recklessness committed with a deadly weapon. There is a warrant for his arrest.

A witness told police the Malibu speeding alongside a green Honda, which police said was driven by a fellow Heritage classmate. Witnesses said the two cars appeared to be racing, court documents said. The Honda’s driver said he and Lay had been speeding on Monroeville Road and Wayne Trace earlier that day but denied speeding when the crash occurred.

Lay told police he was being “brake-checked” by the Honda and was concerned about rear-ending the green car because his insurance covered only liability. He said when he saw the white box truck he tried to merge back into the right lane but the Honda had accelerated and blocked his path. He veered left, but the box truck had veered right and they collided, he said. 

jduffy@jg.net

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