Man charged in Petaluma boy's roadside death yet to enter plea

  • Mike Krnaich of Petaluma Ramp Rats, does a head over heels 360 flip Saturday May 21, 2011 during the 117th Luther Burbank Rose Parade. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2011

A Petaluma man who was charged last month with two felony counts of child endangerment in a June roadside accident that led to the death of a 13-year-old boy has yet to enter a plea.

Mike Krnaich, 41, made his first court appearance in the case in Mendocino County court Tuesday but delayed entering a plea to the charges until May 8, officials said.

Krnaich and his wife were driving in a caravan on Highway 101 to Lake Mendocino for their daughter's birthday June 15 with two vehicles full of party guests when Krnaich's Chevrolet pickup ran out of gas just shy of the highway exit, the CHP said.

Several of the kids jumped out to help push the truck, which was towing a ski boat, uphill to the lip of the offramp, which led downhill to a gas station, authorities said.

Among them was Trevor Smith, a Kenilworth Junior High student.

When the truck picked up speed, Smith apparently fell and was run over by the trailer, the CHP said.

Prosecutors decided just over three weeks ago to charge Krnaich in the case, citing what they said were a series of negligent decisions that led to Smith's death and put another child at risk, as well.

He faces a maximum prison term of seven years and four months if convicted.

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