A Los Osos man accused of causing a deadly accident while under the influence of a synthetic drug called “spice” was charged with four felonies Friday.
Tanner Noah Mengore, 22, will make his first court appearance Monday, a little more than two weeks after he allegedly caused a single-vehicle accident that killed a 17-year-old boy and the teen’s 22-month-old nephew.
On Friday, the District Attorney’s Office charged Mengore with two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of a drug causing injury and child abuse. Four enhancements were added for causing great bodily injury to multiple victims, including one under the age of 5.
He faces approximately 18 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
According to the CHP, on Oct. 25, Mengore had smoked spice, a mix of herbs and spices typically sprayed with a synthetic compound chemically similar to THC, before driving a carload of passengers that included three siblings and their nephew.
Around 4 p.m., the SUV Mengore was driving at a high rate of speed veered out of control on Highway 1, near Cayucos, hit an embankment and went airborne before rolling several times.
Three of the four passengers were thrown from the vehicle. Mason Simmonds-Gibson, the toddler, and Simon Brito, the 17-year-old, were killed. Wendi Brito, a 19-year-old who was babysitting the toddler, and Michael Brito, 23, suffered major injuries. Mengore, the only person wearing a seatbelt in the vehicle, suffered minor injuries.
According to the CHP, Mengore admitted to smoking spice before driving.
While spice is not illegal, driving under the influence is.
Spice is known to cause paranoia, panic attacks and giddiness, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It can also cause confusion, hallucinations and a rapid heart rate.
While Mengore remains free on bail, a fundraiser to benefit the families of the two deceased victims is planned for Nov. 16 at Off the Hook restaurant in Morro Bay. Both Simon Brito and the toddler’s mother, Stace Estrella Brito, worked at the restaurant.
Mengore was a friend of the Brito family. According to court records, he has no prior convictions in San Luis Obispo County.