“There is a reason ABC agents work year-round to keep alcohol from those under the age of 21, and that is to protect the lives of all of us, including our young people. Thank you to California Alcoholic Beverage Control agents for working nights, days, weekends and holidays to keep us all safe.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
MERCED – On December 3, 2021, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) announced that a suspect has been arrested in Merced for allegedly furnishing alcohol to minors who were later involved in a single-vehicle fatal crash.
The arrest was followed a lengthy Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies (TRACE) investigation. ABC opened the TRACE investigation following a December 2020 fatal crash that claimed the life of a 19-year-old driver and injured three others. Alcohol was determined to be a contributing factor in the crash.
On December 5, 2020, Merced Police officers responded to a single-vehicle fatal traffic crash at Bear Creek Drive and Parsons Avenue. Merced Police Department traffic officers, with assistance from an ABC agent and the Merced County District Attorney’s Office, opened a year-long investigation into where the 19-year-old driver and two other teenagers obtained alcohol.
It was determined that Gage Vaughn, 22, had purchased the alcohol and allegedly furnished alcohol to the minors earlier in the evening. The Merced County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and filed charges against Vaughn. Vaughn was arrested by Merced Police on December 1, 2021.
“ABC will actively pursue criminal investigations following alcohol-related fatal crashes through our TRACE program,” said ABC Director Eric Hirata. “These tragedies can be avoided by keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors.”
ABC’s involvement began shortly after the crash when it opened the TRACE investigation to find out the source of the alcohol consumed by the underage driver.