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Investigation into Garth Li's death

Original post made by A Palo Alto parent, Midtown, on Aug 1, 2006

So many of Garth Li's friends have written about how wonderful he was.

When is one of those friends going to step up and tell the authorities, his parents, and his community what really happened?

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Comments (14)

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 1, 2006 at 6:09 pm

Here's the Merc article (the weblink requires to to sign in)

The Palo Alto teenager whose car crashed into an Interstate 280 abutment July 6 was driving with nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his bloodstream, San Mateo County coroner's officials said Monday.

Garth Li, who would have been a junior at Gunn High School next month, died of massive cranial injuries in the wreck, an autopsy found. He was on his way home from a party about 2 a.m. that Thursday.

He had a driver's permit that allowed him to drive only if a licensed adult was with him; he wasn't licensed to drive on his own. The 1983 BMW he was driving was bought -- without his parents' knowledge -- for $300 about a month before his death, friends said.

More than 400 people, most his peers, crowded into the Roller Hapgood Tinney funeral home in Palo Alto for services in his honor.

The California Highway Patrol continues its investigation, but its progress has been frustrated because none of the friends he was with earlier in the evening ``are willing to tell me what happened,'' Highway Patrol Deputy Mark Melhus said.

Posted by Marc Yeh
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 15, 2006 at 10:41 am

Never! The rich will do everything to prevent their children from landing in jail! When I drive through the streets of Los Altos, I see SUV's in every single driveway. This tells me how little the rich cares about the environment and the war and fellow human beings who are not in their social club.

Posted by J.Johnson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2006 at 6:14 am

Marc, get a grip. I mean, holy smoke... Do you paint with such a large brush all the time? Where do you make such connections like that?

Maybe CHP guy Melhus is being stonewalled. But that's just one man's opinion. Maybe he's just not getting the answers he wants to hear. Remember, we only read a seven-word sentence fragment of something he reportedly said and it was put into context by another person (the writer). Let's not go overboard here.

What Melhus probably wants to find out is where and how he got the booze. But they figure out who got him the liquor and someone is probably going to go to jail. That person is probably pretty scared of that. And others are probably not wanting to rat out other people. This isn't anything different that what most police investigators run into in many/most criminal investigations: people they speak to lie to them.

In the end, does it really matter that 'one of those friends... step up and tell the authorities, his parents, and his community what really happened?' We know what happened: he got drunk, took out the car he owned but his parents didn't know about, drove too fast for his level of driving skill and level of sobriety, and got himself killed. He acted like lots of teenagers do but the combination of too many bad factors and his behavior got him killed.

It is a bit difficult to fathom, though, how you could not know your 15 year-old kid owned and drove a car of his own without a license. How out of touch with your kid's life do you have to be to not know that?

Posted by Annabel
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 29, 2006 at 10:27 pm

Sadly, reports show that Garth had been drinking before his crash. His blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit.

Posted by Adrian Austin
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 10, 2006 at 8:15 pm

As a Gunn student and a close friend of Garth's, in my opinion it really doesnt matter to know where Garth got the alcohol. People are just trying to find a person to blame. Even if that person is found and fined/jailed, that is not going to stop teen drinking and its not going to help his parents mourn any easier. We have to except that what happened was bad judgement on my friend's part and that it really shouldnt have happened.

Posted by J. Johnson
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2006 at 4:57 am

Sorry, Adrian, but it does matter where he got the alcohol. Adults have to accept the responsibility when they make the conscious decision to provide alcohol to someone who is not of age. While it's understanable why the authorities might be being stonewalled in their investigation, they should be trying to determine who provide him with the alcohol, there is no question of that.

They aren't 'just trying to find a person to blame'. They are trying to hold the person who is in part criminally responsible for his death. That's what cops and DAs do.

And how do you know that finding the person responsible for getting him the booze isn't '(helping) his parents mourn any easier'? What a presumptuous thing to say because you certainly don't know that. And in the end, it doesn't matter. Members of our society need to be accountable for what they do. That's what laws are about. And that is what should happen to whomever provide him the alcohol.

Posted by alan minnis
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2006 at 4:29 pm

man he was drinking he is gone.dont you remember charles marlo jenkins crashed on middlefield in palo alto.he is gone to.know why cause he was drinking so lessons have to be learned.if u cant drive when u drunk than dont try.i know i can drive.

Posted by frank
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 25, 2006 at 2:21 pm

Never! The rich will do everything to prevent their children from landing in jail! When I drive through the streets of Los Altos, I see SUV's in every single driveway. This tells me how little the rich cares about the environment and the war and fellow human beings who are not in their social club.
Posted by Marc Yeh, a resident of Mountain View, on Aug 15, 2006 at 10:41 am

Posted by senior
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 9, 2007 at 4:53 pm

Being a Student at gunn, I can tell you: KIDS WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO GET ALCOHOL. no matter who you put in jail, there will always be someone else willing to buy it. Or, perhaps they steal it out of their parents well stocked liquer cabnet!

Posted by Been There
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 9, 2007 at 5:13 pm


There all sorts of ways to buy many illegal things. The part of the equation you are missing is the punishment for those who violate the law. A few days in the joint works for a lot of kids, but longer sentences for the hard cases are better medicine.

You sound like you are a typical Palo Alto entitled kid. Are you confident that your parents will protect you if you get busted by the cops? If so, you are fairly typical.

It is easy to stand on the soapbox and declare that " KIDS WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO GET ALCOHOL", especially if Mommy and Daddy protect your butt (or enable you to do it).

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Frank Wu
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2007 at 7:32 pm

I wonder, was there anything else that the police reported about Garth Li's case?

Posted by gunn senior
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 14, 2008 at 12:21 am

I understand why you, as adults, are concerned with the legal reprocussions of his drinking etc., and adrian austin isn't the smartest kid to begin with so he's definitely not speaking on my behalf. But, as a senior at Gunn, and one of Garth's friends, I believe it is completely un-called for and, frankly, quite inappropriate to pass judgements on the parenting exhibited by Garth's parents.
"How out of touch with your kid's life do you have to be to not know that?"
How dare you make judgements on people you don't know. Don't you think they've been through enough? I am simply apalled that anyone would even make such a tasteless statement.
Sure, the person who provided the alcohol is legally responsible, and so are the individuals who let him drive. Either way, he's gone, and casting stones doesn't change that. Many high school students make the wrong choice to drink and drive and make it out alive or with a DUI.
I just think that you should all exhibit a bit more respect and stop making arbitrary statements that aren't going to make a difference in anything, and simply end up being hurtful

Posted by ex gunn student
a resident of Juana Briones School
on May 5, 2009 at 4:45 pm

As a friend of garth and a kid who went to gunn i can honestly say that you parents are making things a million times worse. When i went to gunn i can honestly say people were always getting drunk. At every dance people were drinking and now that they are cracking down of that the kids now are moving on to harder drugs like E to go to dances. When i was school i remember my friends drinking to go to a couple classes. No matter what kids are going to get alcohol and drugs so instead of trying to blame someone for this loss we should be mourning garth and celebrating his life.

Also blaming the parents for not knowing about the car and where he was is completely rude. I can say with complete confidence that you parents have no idea about half the things your kids are doing. Garth loved his parents and thats saying a lot today and can you guys honestly say that your kids truly love you too?

So why dont you stop being awful people and trying to place blame on someone and start mourning an important life. Garth was an AMAZING person and the world lost someone extremely special when he died.

I love and miss you Garth. I hope you arent listening to these jerks writing here. Rest in Peace

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Professorville

on Jun 6, 2017 at 1:32 am

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