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14-year-old gets probation after UTV crash in Scottsdale


The crash killed 14-year-old Gillian Ragan, a Chaparral High School freshman with hopes of becoming a pediatric nurse.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was the middle of the night on Dec. 9, 2023. Gillian Ragan, 14, was at a sleepover when her father decided to track her location. She was moving through the desert in Scottsdale. 

“I knew in my heart something was wrong,” Bart Ragan, Gillian’s father, said during a court hearing on Tuesday.

Bart said he called Gillian’s mom, Jennifer. 

Jennifer would soon get another call. Gillian was in an ambulance being rushed to the hospital. 

The 14-year-old girl wouldn’t survive her injuries.

Now, months later, the teen responsible for her death is accepting a plea deal, a deal Gillian’s family describes as a slap on the wrist.

‘He was asked to slow down.’

Gillian’s parents describe her as a walking miracle. After giving birth to her older brother, her parents went through infertility treatments. Doctors told them Gillian wouldn’t make it an hour past her birth, but they had hope.

Gillian was born with health issues. She learned how to crawl with a body cast. She learned how to speak when she was 5 years old.

But her parents did everything they could to make her life a grand one.

“She was small but mighty,” Jennifer said during Tuesday’s court hearing. “She knew she was physically different but it did not distract her.”

Gillian’s family described her as pure love. They said she did everything with beauty and grace and had dreams of becoming a pediatric nurse.

But her life was cut short.


On Dec. 8, Gillian was at a sleepover at a friend’s house. They were taken to the Scottsdale home of a 14-year-old boy, and several teens ended up getting into his parent’s UTV with the 14-year-old behind the wheel.

Gillian’s parents said the teen boy drove them through the desert and despite the group screaming at him to slow down, he didn’t. Around 1 a.m. on Dec. 9, he crashed into a fire hydrant, killing Gillian. 

She died 10 days before her 15th birthday.

“A beautiful, 14-year-old girl should not lose their life while a 14-year-old is driving a vehicle that there shouldn’t be keys to and access to, and a bunch of kids in with no helmets and no restraints,” said Mark Breyer, an attorney representing Gillian’s family.

Teen behind the wheel accepts plea deal

On Tuesday, the 14-year-old boy charged with Gillian’s death agreed to a plea agreement. He pleaded guilty to negligent homicide. It’s a crime that would be a felony offense if it was prosecuted in adult court. His identity is not being released as he is a juvenile and was not charged as an adult.

During his hearing, Gillian’s parents delivered emotional victim impact statements to the court. Through tears, they described the profound and devastating impact the loss of their daughter has had on their lives.

“Death of a child is the front door of hell,” Jennifer said. “Gillian and I were the love of each others’ lives.”

Both of Gillian’s parents say they are dealing with depression, rage, memory loss and panic attacks. They suffer from broken heart syndrome.

They also expressed frustration with Arizona’s juvenile court system which moves quickly and focuses on rehabilitation for defendants, rather than accountability.

“Someone needs to be held criminally responsible for the death of my daughter,” Jennifer said.

After pleading guilty to negligent homicide, the 14-year-old driver was sentenced to probation. It will expire the day before his 18th birthday.

He also must write letters to the victims and either write a five-page essay about why safety is important when operating a motorized vehicle or create a short video explaining it.

He also cannot operate a motorized vehicle without a license and his parents’ permission.


12News asked Scottsdale PD if the teen driver’s parents were ever questioned and if charges for them were ever considered. A spokesperson said the case is not currently open and no additional charges are being filed at this time. They declined to provide additional comment.

The attorney representing the 14-year-old driver released the following statement after the plea agreement was reached: 

“We are all so very, very sorry for Gillian’s family and the other victims. We cannot imagine what any of them are going through. We know there is nothing anyone can do to undo this harm, and hope and pray that they find some comfort in Gillian’s memory.”

Family wants parents of suspect held accountable

Gillian’s family believes the 14-year-old driver’s parents bear some responsibility for allowing the teen, too young to possess a license, access to the vehicle.

“If keys were given to a 14-year-old to drive and they knew the 14-year-old was packing in kids without helmets and without restraints, where is the accountability? That is up to prosecutors,” Breyer said. “Had this child ever been allowed to drive it before? When he drove before, who was with him? Had he ever been trained on how to drive it? Had he been told he can go out with kids? Did he do this all the time? Was he supervised or unsupervised?”

Gillian’s family has many outstanding questions about what happened the night their daughter was killed and how the teen driver was able to access the UTV. It’s why they are filing a civil lawsuit against the teen and his family. They’re hoping through the civil court process, they can get answers and accountability.

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned to get the answers to these questions that the civil justice system will allow us to get, and then hold people accountable to the fullest degree we can in that setting,” Breyer said.


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