UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, JULY 5
BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
A 51-year-old man is facing two counts of vehicular manslaughter for a fiery crash on Skyline Boulevard near Woodside that killed his two passengers after the three had spent the day visiting a home where Willie Nelson made music.
Following drinks and dinner at Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline, James Morton Worthington, of Woodside, got in his sedan and drove Josh McGuigan, 22, of Redwood City and Henry Keating, 23, of Menlo Park, north on the windy wooded road, according to District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
The three set off around 5:40 p.m. and Worthington was driving about 90 mph when he lost control of the car and crashed head-on into a tree, causing the car to burst into a ball of fire, according to the DA.
A passersby who saw the crash ran up to the car and pulled Worthington out, according to Wagstaffe. Keating and McGuigan died at the scene, according to the DA. Police say Worthington smelled of alcohol and had a blood alcohol content of .10% three and a half hours after the crash, prosecutors said.
He made his initial appearance in court Friday to face the charges of vehicular manslaughter and DUI and pleaded innocent.
The Post tried to reach Worthington’s attorney, James Beahm, yesterday, which was Independence Day, but didn’t hear back from him.
The Post went to the crash site and found car parts strewn around the crash scene, including a muffler and license plate frame holder. The pavement was blackened from the explosion.
McGuigan’s family set up a memorial motorcade past the site on Friday and over 50 people attended, according to Josh McGuigan’s sister-in-law, Rebecca McGuigan. The family set up a memorial including Hot Wheels cars, which he loved, and flowers.
McGuigan had a passion for motorsports, driving his Toyota 86 sports car on mountain roads and on race tracks, according to Rebecca McGuigan.
She says that while Josh McGuigan struggled with ADHD, he had lately been doing “very well for himself,” getting a job at Roberts Market and “finding a partner in his girlfriend Vanessa,” Rebecca McGuigan wrote in an email to the Post.
Most of the McGuigan family was on the brink of moving to Florida when the crash occurred. Some family members were in the process of driving the family vehicles across the country, according to Rebecca McGuigan.
‘A big heart’
“He had a big, kind heart and would do anything he could for those around him. One of his mother’s greatest worries was that someone would take advantage of his kindness and naivete. He was just such a sweet soul,” Rebecca McGuigan told the Post.
McGuigan and his four siblings grew up in San Carlos and later moved to Redwood City. He attended Heather Elementary, Tierra Linda Middle School and Summit Preparatory High School. McGuigan was an Eagle Scout of Troop 321, said Joe McGuigan, Josh McGuigan’s brother.
McGuigan and Keating’s friendship came out of an awkward encounter, Joe McGuigan told the Post.
Keating was fired from Roberts Market in Woodside and Josh McGuigan took over his position. But the two became friends anyway.
Keating was a big music fan, attending concerts and making his own music. He graduated from Menlo-Atherton High School.
“Henry was loved by so many people and he had so much love to give. Anyone who had the privilege to know him knew how much he cared for the people in his life and how much he wanted to see everyone thrive and be the best they can be. He was so passionate and creative, always working on something new like his music tracks,” his brother, Zach, wrote on the family’s GoFundMe page.
McGuigan was the night deli manager at Roberts Market and befriended some of the regulars at the store, including Worthington, said McGuigan’s brother, Joe.
Keating was a big music fan and Worthington was a musician. The two young men had been over to Worthington’s home on more than one occasion, said Joe McGuigan. On the day of the crash, Worthington had shown Keating and McGuigan a home where Willie Nelson had written or played at in the past, according to Joe McGuigan.
News traveled slowly
An unusual aspect of the June 21 crash is that there was not much notification that it occurred until Wagstaffe’s announcement of charges against Worthington on Monday. Typically, the CHP, which patrols Skyline Boulevard, puts out notices about fatal crashes. A representative of the CHP did not return the Post’s inquiry about the lack of notification yesterday.
Neither McGuigan nor Keating’s names were listed on the San Mateo County’s daily coroner’s report. Their names were blacked out the day after the crash because they had not been identified by their families, a coroner’s employee told the Post yesterday. She did not know why their names did not show up on later editions of the coroner’s report.
Worthington is in jail in lieu of $1 million. He is set to appear in court again on Aug. 4 for a preliminary hearing.
How to help
McGuigan’s GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-relocation-expenses-for-86joshy-fam
Keating’s GoFundMe: www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-and-family-expenses-for-henry
ORIGINAL STORY, TUESDAY, JULY 4 — A 51-year-old man, who was allegedly drunk, faces two counts of vehicular manslaughter for a fiery crash on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) near Woodside that killed his two passengers, San Mateo County prosecutors said.
James Morton Worthington, a Woodside resident, had dinner and drinks on June 21 with two friends — Henry Keating, 23, of Menlo Park, and Josh McGuigan, 22 of Redwood City — at Alice’s Restaurant, located on Skyline, according to the county District Attorney’s Office.
The three then got into Worthington’s sedan and allegedly drove north on winding Skyline Boulevard at speeds of about 90 mph before Worthington lost control of the car and crashed head-on into a tree, causing the car to explode into a ball of fire, prosecutors said.
On Monday — 12 days after the crash — parts of the car were strewn around the accident scene where friends had created a makeshift memorial. On the pavement was a blackened area from the explosion. The muffler was among the parts thrown across the road.
Witnesses pulled Worthington, who was unconscious, out of the vehicle and he was taken to Stanford Hospital with broken ribs and other injuries while his passengers were pronounced dead, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
At the hospital, officers noted the smell of alcohol on Worthington, whose blood alcohol content was at .10% three-and-a-half hours after the crash, prosecutors said.
He made his initial appearance in court Friday to face the charges of vehicular manslaughter and DUI and pleaded innocent in the June 21 crash.
Worthington, whose defense attorney was not immediately available for comment, remains in jail on $1 million bail and is set to return to court on Aug. 4 for a preliminary hearing. — From staff and wrie reports