No charges to be filed for year-old fatal accident |

No charges to be filed for year-old fatal accident

Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

After almost a year of investigation, the Douglas County District Attorney said Friday criminal charges will not be filed as a result of a fatal accident nearly a year ago at Kingsbury Grade and Highway 50.

Mariah Davenport, 27, died in September after a man from Glendale, Calif., drove through a red light at more than 70 mph and collided with her two-door Mitsubishi.

Nevada Highway Patrol investigators released a report at the end of last year that recommended the driver, Bernard Schnipper, 72, be charged with involuntary manslaughter and cited for speeding and running a red light.

Scott Doyle, district attorney, said those charges will not be filed because his investigators discovered something wrong with Schnipper’s gold Ford sedan that NHP missed.

“I don’t think they were aware of the accelerator problem,” Doyle said. “They looked primarily at the brakes. We found a defect in the accelerator or throttle cable in Mr. Schnipper’s car. The defect caused the accelerator cable to stick intermittently.”

The Davenport family has filed a civil suit against Schnipper, but Rita Mcewing, Mariah’s aunt, said the news was “very, very upsetting” and that she is disappointed it took so long for the district attorney’s office to deliver the information.

“Now we find out a year later that our fight is just beginning,” Mcewing said. “You can’t let a child go through life thinking that somebody killed his mother and got away with it. Our primary goal is to know what happened and why.”

When Mariah was killed, she left behind a 12-year-old son, Christopher. He is being cared for by his grandmother.

“I don’t think any of us, all along, think he did it maliciously, but somebody screwed up out there that day and should take responsibility,” Mcewing said. “She was doing what she was supposed to do. She had her seat belt on and somebody blew through a light at 73 miles an hour.”

The intersection where the wreck occurred has produced more car crashes in the last three years than any other in Douglas County, according the Nevada Department of Transportation.

From November 1998 to October 2001, 34 wrecks occurred at the intersection.

To make the intersection safer, Mcewing suggests NDOT install a video camera.

“They obviously know it’s a problem,” she said. “I go through that light a minimum of two times a day and there isn’t one day when somebody doesn’t blow through it.”

The fatal car accident was not the first time the Davenport family has had to deal with such tragedy.

Robert Davenport, Mariah’s brother, was killed in 1998 when his car rolled off a road in Nevada. He was 26 years old.

Shouldering the burden of losing a brother and sister is Jason Davenport, 33.

“We’ve let due process take its course but the outcome is pretty unacceptable, apathetic and non-conclusive,” said Jason, of the investigation into the accident that caused his sister’s death.

“It’s not the end of it,” he said. “She was in the prime of her life. She was blooming, bettering herself (and) had everything going for her.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or at

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