Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Far too often car accidents are caused by a careless (negligent) driver who was speeding or driving recklessly on the road. This was the case in a recent Los Angeles car accident that resulted in the deaths of two people and left four others seriously injured.

According to ABC 7 News, the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to an accident scene in Northridge around 2:00 in the afternoon, after a local resident reported the crash. Two adult men were driving in a custom-built kit car, when the driver lost control. The kit car veered into oncoming traffic and hit a sedan carrying four passengers.

Photos of the scene show both cars completely mangled by the collision. Both the driver and the passenger in the kit car were killed—the passenger died at the scene and the driver later died from his serious injuries sustained in the crash. The driver and three passengers in the sedan were trapped in their car. Emergency personnel pried open the car and rushed all four to the hospital in critical condition.

The Redondo Beach intersection of Aviation Boulevard and Grant Avenue was the scene of a tragic hit-and-run accident this past weekend. According to Fox 11 News, the accident occurred Saturday night just after 9:00 p.m. A 21-year-old woman, Angelina Pinedo, was crossing the street with her sister when she was struck by a black Audi Q5, which then failed to stop and fled the scene.

Tragically Pinedo was pronounced dead at the scene. The sisters were crossing a crosswalk at the time the incident occurred, but the black Audi drove through the intersection without stopping. Pinedo was visiting her sister while on break from school at San Francisco State University. Police immediately began an investigation to find the driver behind the incident.

By Monday morning, the police reported they had located an Audi SUV with damage to the front end, the windshield, and hood. This led the police to further investigate the car owner and Leila Gonzalez, also 21-years-old, was arrested. “Detectives say she admitted she was driving the vehicle involved in the collision.” She was booked at the Redondo Beach jail on felony hit-and-run resulting in death/injury and is being held on $50,000 bail. Redondo Beach Police have asked for anyone who witnessed the accident, or anyone with more information about the incident, to contact them right away.

A couple from North Dakota, Jessica and Troy Nelson, was killed week while vacationing in San Diego when a large tree collapsed onto the house they were renting during their stay. The couple was staying on the top floor of a two-story home in Point Loma Heights when heavy wind sent the tree crashing into the home.

Fox 5 San Diego reported that the incident occurred around 6 a.m. and the couple was upstairs sleeping. A third person was in the home on the first story—he was rescued by firefighters and was not seriously hurt.

According to neighbors, the owner of the home rents out the house as a short-term or vacation rental. When the crash occurred, many neighbors were woken up by the noise and hurried outside to see the tree toppled onto the home. One neighbor said the tree had been pruned and re-pruned, calling it “an accident waiting to happen.” Another neighbor reported the tree had been at the center of a dispute between the property owners on either side of the tree, with one owner “reluctant to have it removed.”

Luis Samaniego Barajas and Zachary Frank Leets, both 20-years-old, have been sentenced to four years in prison as a result of a deadly car crash they caused while allegedly street racing. The Torrance auto accident, which occurred in June 2017, resulted in the death of 20-year-old Maximillian Alexis Rojas.

According to The Daily Breeze, Rojas was traveling home from work on the Pacific Coast Highway when the car accident occurred. Barajas and Leets were strangers who decided to race one another. During the race, Barajas’s car, a Honda coupe, “struck a center median, became airborne and crashed head-on into the victim’s Nissan sedan,” killing Rojas. The accident was so powerful, the engine in Rojas’ car broke free and landed in the street. Barajas was hospitalized after the incident, however, Leets fled the scene and was later arrested. They both pled no contest to vehicular manslaughter to avoid trial and will now spend four years in prison.

In California, street racing is a crime. As in this case, those who participate in street racing will face criminal charges. When street racing harms another person, the criminal consequences will be more severe and likely will include jail time. However, facing criminal consequences does not eliminate the civil liability those responsible for crash owe to anyone they hurt as a result of their actions. A civil claim, such as a personal injury or wrongful death claim, is separate and distinct from criminal charges. While criminal charges involve the government bringing a charge against a person for illegal behavior, civil claims are between two people (or entities, like a company) for wrongs done by person one to another.

On Monday January 7, 2019, around 12:08 p.m., a collision at the intersection of Lakewood Boulevard and Willow Street in Long Beach caused the death of 25-year-old Corey Haggerty of Lakewood. The motorcyclist and a driver of a 2018 Ford Explorer made contact as the motorcycle changed lanes to make a left turn onto Willow Street. The Ford Explorer had just exited the 405 freeway.

The Press Telegram reports that Long Beach firefighters responded to the scene, but were unable to save Haggerty, who was thrown from his 2012 Honda CBR 600 to the southbound lane. Haggerty was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Ford Explorer driver, a 49-year-old woman from Torrance, stopped at the scene and cooperated with officers. She and her fellow passenger were uninjured. At this point, “Detectives do not believe the driver of the SUV was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the collision.” The collision and investigation closed the southbound and northbound ramps to the freeway for about 4 hours. Officers will continue investigating the incident to determine the cause.

Recently, heavy rain in Southern California has made for extremely dangerous driving conditions. The heavy rains have decreased visibility on already busy roads, which has led to several car accidents through Ventura County and its surrounding counties. The rain has been particularly problematic during commuting hours and CHP reported “there have been a lot of crashes [and] people hitting the guardrails.” Several drivers have reported losing control of their vehicles because of the slick roads.

One particular accident near Camarillo resulted in a deadly head-on collision. According to the Ventura County Star, a 65-year-old man from Oxnard driving a Nissan pickup lost control of his vehicle while traveling westbound. The car crossed into oncoming traffic, “for reasons that are still being investigated” and hit a Ford F-250 pickup driven by a 27-year-old man from Oxnard.

Emergency personnel responded to the scene of the accident and the Nissan driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The Ford F-250 driver was taken to the St. John’s Pleasant Valley hospital for his injuries suffered in the collision.

Although the holiday season can be a wonderful time of year, full of celebration, it can also be a dangerous time of year especially over the New Year’s holiday weekend. New Year’s Celebrations often include drinking, and far too often people make the dangerous and reckless choice to drive while intoxicated.

This was true over the New Year’s holiday weekend here in California. The Los Angeles Times reported that 36 people died in DUI related car accidents over the holiday weekend, which spanned from December 28, 2018 to January 2, 2019. Four of those killed were pedestrians. California Highway Patrol stated the death toll was higher than last year, as only 23 people were killed over the 2017/2018 holiday. In Los Angeles County, one person was killed, which was down from the six killed the previous year.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the four-day holiday period included maximum enforcement of DUI driving laws. This led to the arrests of 1,140 drivers statewide who were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. CHP officers stated that, “although that’s an increase from the previous year’s 936, this year’s holiday span was a day longer because New Year’s Day fell on a Tuesday.”

A driver of a black Lincoln and his female passenger were killed in a Hyde Park car accident December 16, 2018. According to KTLA News, around 9:00 in the morning, the car left the road just east of Crenshaw Boulevard, and smashed into an abandoned building.

The male driver was partially ejected from the car as a result of the impact. The female passenger was fully ejected from the car, and both were pronounced dead at the scene. Because of the collapse of the structure onto the car, police believe it will “require an extended extrication to recover the bodies due to safety concerns with building collapse.”

As of right now, the cause of the accident remains unknown. Police said speeding is very common on the street but are not certain that is was caused this crash. In a crash like this, that involves no other vehicles, there are many possible causes for the police to consider such as driving while intoxicated (either alcohol or drugs), driving while texting, or even drowsy driving. It is very important that a thorough investigation is conducted to determine the cause of the accident.

On February 9, 2014, 26-year-old Olivia Culbreath from Fontana, drove against oncoming traffic causing a horrific California drunk driving collision that killed six people.

According to ABC 7 News, Culbreath had been previously drinking before entering the freeway and driving her Camaro the wrong way at “speeds of up to 100 miles per hour in the early morning.” Her car slammed into a Ford explorer, and ultimately caused a three-car pileup. Four people in the explorer, all from the same family, were killed. Two passengers in Culbreath’s car were also killed, one of the victims being her sister.

Three hours after the accident her blood alcohol level was still .15%, nearly double the legal limit in California of .08%. Apparently, Culbreath had previously been arrested for a DUI and was warned by the court on that occasion about the dangers of driving under the influence. In May, she was convicted after pleading no contest to six counts of second-degree murder. This past week, the Judge sentenced her to thirty years to life for her actions that caused this terrible tragedy.

A 22-year-old young man from San Jacinto, Thomas Llamas, was recently killed in a Perris motorcycle accident. According to The Press-Enterprise, the Perris accident occurred at the intersection of Rider Street and Wilson Avenue, when a sedan made a left turn as Llamas was traveling straight through the intersection.

Llamas struck the passenger side of the vehicle. He was immediately taken to the Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, but passed away shortly after his arrival. The driver of the sedan was not injured in the accident and was not arrested. The police are still trying to determine what caused the accident, but drugs or alcohol do not appear to have been involved.

Unfortunately, fatalities from motorcycle accidents nationwide have more than doubled over the past 15 years. Motorcycles can be an especially appealing mode of transportation in Southern California due to the beautiful weather and heavily trafficked roads, but this can mean there is even more danger for motorcyclists. A report from earlier this year showed that in 2016, “566 motorcyclists were killed in California — an 11 percent increase from 494 deaths in 2015…that doesn’t include the 14,400 motorcyclists injured.” California also ranks in the top 15 of the 50 states for motorcycle fatalities.

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