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US service member under investigation in Italy for fatal car crash

Riccardo Fabi/NurPhoto via Getty Images, FILE photo

(PORCIA, Italy) — A U.S. service member is under investigation in Italy for allegedly striking and killing a teenage boy with her car while intoxicated, according to Italian media.

Italian news agency ANSA reported that the fatal incident occurred in the northern town of Porcia on Sunday at around 2:30 a.m. local time. A 20-year-old unnamed American woman, who is stationed at Aviano Air Base, less than 10 miles north of Porcia, was allegedly driving back after a night out when she lost control of her vehicle at a roundabout and hit 15-year-old Giovanni Zanier, who was walking home with two friends on a cycling path near the road. Zanier died, while his friends were not injured, according to ANSA, which cited Italian police.

The driver suffered minor injuries from broken glass and the air bag deploying during the crash. Her blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit, ANSA reported.

Italian police placed the U.S. servicewoman under house arrest at Aviano Air Base and charged her with vehicular homicide, according to ANSA.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for the U.S. Air Force told ABC News on Monday: “We can confirm there was a vehicle incident involving an Airman from Aviano Air Base. The Air Force is cooperating with local authorities on the investigation.”

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ANSA reported that an Italian judge is expected to decide this week whether the case will be prosecuted in Italy or in the United States.

Speaking to Italy’s state-owned public broadcaster RAI, Pordenone Prosecutor Raffaele Tito said the Italian Ministry of Justice can ask that the American woman be tried in Italy based on its own decision or a request by the U.S. to do so. Tito’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment on Tuesday.

If Italian prosecutors indict the American woman, U.S. authorities could invoke jurisdiction as part of an Italian-U.S. military treaty under NATO auspices. U.S. military officials could take over the prosecution in that case. But there was currently no indication that Italy’s justice minister would intervene.

The town council of Porcia had recently ordered streetlights in the location where the accident occurred to be shut off at 2 a.m. local time, but Italian police said the crash would probably not have been averted even with the lights on, according to ANSA.

ABC News’ Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

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