Update: Alleged drunken driver charged in deaths of two of friends in fiery crash


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.

This muffler was thrown across the road after a car hit a tree and killed two men inside it. Post photo by Dave Price.

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

Two men died when their car hit this tree on Skyline Boulevard. Memorial items have been placed on and around the tree. Post photo by Dave Price.
The fiery crash blackened the pavement of Skyline Boulevard. Post photo by Dave Price.
Alleged drunken driver James Worthington of Woodside drove from Alice’s Restaurant on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) to Reids Roost Road, where he hit a tree and his car burst into fire, according to the District Attorney. Worthington’s two passengers were killed in the June 21 crash. Google map.


  1. Is Alice’s restaurant even open anymore? I saw an ad for them about a year or so ago, but I had heard that they had closed.

    • They are open and thriving. Even with 84 closed between Fox Hill Road and Portola Road they are very busy.
      In fact, they offered take out during Covid that was well supported by the community.

  2. Imagine having to live the rest of your life knowing that you killed your two friends. What a stupid decision to drink and drive.

  3. You ought to call DA Wagstaffe and tell him his information is wrong. The CHP and Woodside Fire got it wrong, but fortunately you’ll set them straight!!!

  4. What exactly is the wrong information here? I’ll tell you what isn’t wrong, thanks to Mr. Worthington’s negligence, my cousin lost his life. What needs to be set straight? Pulled out by whitenesses or the jaws of life, he still killed two people. I hope he lives a miserable life behind bars. Especially once they find out he killed a family member of law enforcement.

  5. Exactly what information is wrong? Are you an eye witness to the accident? If not, mind your own damn business.
    Your interference is only hurting grieving family members like myself even further.

  6. Hello,

    This is Henry’s mom. I wanted to clarify parts of the story so there isn’t too much misleading information. Henry left Roberts back in 2020. He had been there for 3 years and was ready for something new, but I don’t know the details of his employment or why he left. Henry had recently returned to the bay area after living in Southern California since July 2021. He missed his friends and was just visiting Roberts to say hi on 6/20 and 6/21. I don’t hold Roberts accountable for anything regarding the accident, as Henry hadn’t worked there for over 2 years. The only one I hold accountable is the driver who chose to drive drunk.

    Even if Henry was fired from Roberts, which I first learned from reading this article, I do know he was very grateful for that job and learned so much in the 3 years he was there. I was very impressed with how he managed situations and learned how conflict resolution skills. Roberts was a great job in that regard and I’m sure the entire community at Roberts is devastated by the loss of both Henry and Josh.

    • Thank you for clarifying. I am so sorry for your loss. I found the PA Daily story kind of odd mentioning the alleged terms of one of the deceased victims previous employment. Instead of providing related details.

      My condolences.


    • My sincerest condolences for the family and friends of the victims. As a friend of James Worthington I would just like to say that James has a heart of gold and is loved by all who know him. Did he use bad judgment getting behind the wheel while intoxicated? Absolutely! Actually three men used bad judgment the night of the crash. It is tragic that two of them lost their lives as a result of their decision to get into the car. To all who read this, please remind those you love to never drive drunk, or get into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.

      • Josh and Henry did not drive 90+ MPH on windy Skyline which the speed limit is 35 MPH – your nice friend James Worthington did. How rude of you to blame Josh and Henry for making bad judgement – their only bad judgement is trusting James Worthington as a friend.

      • My brother and his friend are NOT to blame for your friend’s decision to drive 90MPH WHILE INTOXICATED! How dare you try to accuse Josh and Henry. They are innocent victims in this horrible situation that was made possible thanks to your friend and his “heart of gold.” If he truly had a heart of gold, he wouldn’t have done this!!

  7. I found it odd that a 51 year old would be hanging out with and driving two men less than half his age. I couldn’t imagine doing something like that unless one of the young men was my son and the other his friend.

  8. Hello! This is Zach Keating, Henry’s sibling. I thought it was important to clarify some things. Henry was never fired, he quit himself and he was close friends with Josh before he quit, they became friends as coworkers. I understand how misinformation can spread easily so I thought I’d clear it up so no one blames anyone except the driver. I knew Josh myself as he would come over to hang out at our apartment with Henry and they’d cook dinner for me and my sister and we’d play video games together. That’s one of my favorite memories of hanging out with Josh and Henry <3

    • All I know is we all lost 2 wonderful people, friends and neighbors. I met Josh/Henry about 5 years ago at Roberts and found them both warm caring, sensitive, engaging, helpful young men; which is really admirable in this day and age. Josh was very special, always happy and smiling plus he knew his deli products inside out and answered questions immediately. If you’ve been to Home Depot I’d simply ask who helped you, and/or knew the products they claimed to know?
      Josh did and he smiled EVERY DAY I SAW HIM- about 3 days a week
      What I found so special is I’m a 77yr. old yet I grew to know Josh well as we both loved food and cars. He was also very approachable and in his last months we became closer as he started sharing his love of his new girlfriend. That also meant he decided to move to Florida and I was disappointed because we had gotten closer.
      He told me he was moving in a week or so and had given notice to Roberts.
      If you didn’t meet, or know Josh and Henry personally, just know we lost two VERY special people. My heart goes out to their families and friends.
      I carry the memories of a brother I lost almost 60 years ago to a drunk driver. This type of sadness is carried forever by family members; the victims should never be blamed- because we will never know the conversations inside that car that led up to this horrific event.
      I will now carry my special memories of Josh and Henry knowing they died way too young. Special Thanks Josh… RIP
      P.S. No importance should be given to the comment that Henry had been “fired” from Roberts. Maybe a customer complained he smiled too much… misunderstood in a world where so many frown- he was a beautiful happy soul- that’s what I will always remember!

  9. I think I saw them on that day. They were all perfectly, jovial, if you’re wondering why they be hanging out with a 51-year-old man ,it’s because he was a phenomenal person, just as I hear now his two friends who lost their life we’re .
    I didn’t know them, but I knew James as an acquaintance ,James is an extremely beautiful and respected person, in our community, with a beautiful soul , he would know more choose to do this,then ,Hurt anybody, especially his two young friends,
    Poor choices ! Yes, I think we’ve all made some, I’m sure if James and the young men could do it all over again ,hindsight would be 2020 ,and they might make different choices.
    No one should be demonized , it was absolutely unintentional,
    Love to each, and everyone involved , each and every family member ,for each and every generation, of all three victims of the crash.
    Please note for all you adlibers out there who know nothing about where we live,
    Though it may be extremely beautiful ,It is an extremely intense responsibility to deal with all the dynamics, There in,at any given time of year. summertime offers motorcycles & super cars Ferraris and The like ,going back-and-forth at 120 miles an hour and more ,winter time extreme weather conditions, to my knowledge James had done fine for all the years. I know him as a phenomenal acquaintance,of mine ,and close friend of my deceased drummer ,who loved and cherished.him,
    The driver was more than qualified to be in that area ,We drive in rain, snow, sleet, and hail myself for 40 years that’s for decades.
    James is an Extremely, competent driver, I had just seen him ,and his two friends, who I saw in front of my property, the first time, and they all had very good vibe ,
    The speed limit is posted 50 miles an hour. not 35.’ although it’s changed multiple times.
    Over the years, as far as I know, it’s still posted at 50, i’d love to know how somebody determined that he was doing 90 miles an hour. I’m very familiar with the road and it would be very difficult to reach 90 miles an hour on the approach of the straightaway ,as you can see the car hit the tree at the beginning of the straightaway headed northbound, apparently
    He must’ve have been distracted, I don’t know about you ,I wasn’t there, but in that area, we have Bambi’s crossing the road on a regular basis, bobcats possum , etc. etc,, etc.
    God bless everyone affected by this unfortunate situation , I like anybody and extremely horrified it , presented itself ,Godspeed

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