According to the December 24, 2009, Democrat & Chronicle article "Tia Gerstner offers tearful apology in death of Joseph Mueller" Tia Gerstner, age 19, was being sentenced in New York State Supreme Court on her plea of guilty to second degree manslaughter, a felony for which she will serve six months in jail and probation following that for 5 years.
She told the sentencing judge that before she drove the car in which her 17 year old best friend, Joseph Mueller, was killed, she had consumed two 22-ounce beers and had smoked marijuana.
The March 28, 2009 crash happened when she lost control of the car she was driving at 2 a.m. in suburban Rochester, hit a tree, rolled and hit the front porch of a house.
As the driver of an automobile, Ms. Gerstner owed her passenger, Mr. Mueller, the duty of safe and prudent operation of the vehicle. Influenced by the consumption of beer and marijuana, she caused his death by her failure to safely operate the car. Judging from the facts, this is clearly a case of wrongful death. Mr. Mueller's family could sue both for loss of support [pecuniary damages], funeral and medical expense and perhaps for conscious pain and suffering.
Obviously, no amount of money can compensate a family of a deceased young person, Some families have used wrongful death suit proceeds to honor the memory of their child, for example, by endowing a scholorship fund in their name.