Erik Ortiz Valencia, 29, of Irvine, was killed and seven others were injured in a Laguna Beach car accident involving four vehicles. According to a report in The Orange County Register, the fatal crash occurred the afternoon of January 26, 2014 on Pacific Coast Highway at Irvine Cove Drive. Police say the driver of a Honda was headed north on Coast Highway when he was involved in a collision with three other cars. Ortiz was a passenger in the Honda. The driver, a 27-year-old Mission Viejo man, was injured, but is expected to survive. Police suspect alcohol or drugs were involved.
Road Rage or Intoxication Suspected
The initial collision caused the Honda to veer into oncoming lanes causing a series of crashes along the highway. The seven injured victims were transported to area hospitals. The driver of a 4Runner, a 65-year-old Trabuco Canyon man, was treated at the scene. Two other occupants in that vehicle were transported to the hospital with complaints of pain and later released. The driver of a GMC Sierra was transported for treatment of abrasions. Her passengers suffered more serious injuries including fractured ribs. One of them suffered a collapsed lung. Investigators are also looking into road rage as a possible cause.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Erik Ortiz Valencia for their tragic loss. I also wish the injured victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2011 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were two fatalities and 141 injuries reported as a result of car accidents in Laguna Beach. In Orange County as a whole, 128 people died and 13,541 were injured due to traffic collisions during the same year.
It appears that there are a number of unanswered questions here. What caused the crash? Was the driver of the Honda intoxicated? Was road rage a factor? I trust investigators are looking into these and other factors in order to determine precisely what occurred here. In such cases, at-fault drivers, in addition to facing criminal charges, can also be held civilly liable for the injuries, damages and losses. Injured victims and families of deceased victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.