By Muhammad Atef | May 5, 2021

Driver arrested for Poway crash that killed Rancho Bernardo father, teen son

A 19-year-old driver was jailed Tuesday, charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, in a crash that killed a Rancho Bernardo father and teenage son as the pair left baseball practice at Poway High School earlier this year.

Donald Lee Farmer Jr. is also accused of driving under the influence of drugs causing injury and driving without a license, a misdemeanor, according to the complaint filed by prosecutors. The court document does not indicate what sort of drug.

Farmer was taken into custody and pleaded not guilty to the two felonies and misdemeanor charge during his arraignment in San Diego Superior Court. He was ordered jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail and is due back in court May 18 for a bail review. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The crash happened just after 7 p.m. Feb. 12 on Espola Road. Authorities said Steve Pirolli, 54, was making a left turn out of the school’s north parking lot when the driver’s side of his Toyota Camry was broadsided by a Mercedes.

Pirolli died at the scene. His 13-year-old son, Stephen Pirolli Jr., died at a hospital. The Mercedes driver, identified as Farmer, was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for undisclosed injuries.

Sheriff’s Capt. David Schaller said in a news release Tuesday that deputies assigned to the traffic unit at the department’s Poway station conducted “extensive reconstruction” of the crash.

“Based on their investigation, they determined Farmer was driving under the influence of drugs and had been driving recklessly,” Schaller said.

Police did not disclose any details about what investigators found, including the speed of the cars at impact.

The victims loved baseball, a family member said. Steve Pirolli played baseball at Southwestern College then at University of the Pacific in Stockton. He was working as an IT salesman.

His son, an eighth-grader at Bernardo Heights Middle School, played with a San Diego Crush baseball club team, and had hoped to play baseball in high school, college and maybe even professionally, said Tom Pirolli, brother of the elder man and uncle to the teen.



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