A Merced man has been arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter after two people died in a van rollover accident on the Highway 99 in Ripon. According to an article in the Modesto Bee, 21-year-old Ambrosio Martinez was driving a 1999 Chevy Astro van without a license. Martinez reportedly attempted to cross over from the middle lane to the Jack Tone exit when he collided with a tractor-trailer.
The van hit the big-rig , turned on its side and began to roll. Two people, Garbriela Santiago, 20, and Melicio S. Calisto, 26, who were passengers in the van died. Four others, including the driver, have major injuries. Three van passengers — Arellano Ramirez, 27; Luisa J. Garcia, 27; and Agapito Peralta, 21 – suffered severe head trauma, California Highway Patrol officials said. Officials also say six of the van’s occupants were not buckled up. One passenger, Eusebio M. Lopez, 33, of Merced, was reportedly wearing a seatbelt and was treated at the scene for minor injuries. Jose L. Ramirez, 34, of Lemoore, who was driving the big-rig, was uninjured.
I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those who were killed in this horrible accident. I’d be curious to know if the people in this van were headed to work, were van-pooling or if they were part of a community group. It is regrettable that most of the passengers were not buckled up. The fact that the one passenger who wore his seatbelt escaped with a scratch shows that seat belts do save lives. That passenger, Lopez, should however get checked out in the hospital to make sure he hasn’t suffered any internal injuries as a result of the RIpon van rollover accident.
Depending on who the occupants of the van were and where they were going, they may or may not be entitled to compensation. If they were on the job, then they could be covered through an employer. The driver, Ambrosio Martinez, was driving without a license. If he is uninsured, then the passengers will be able to receive some compensation through their own or one of their family member’s uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
I would urge the victims and their families to seek the guidance of an experienced California personal injury lawyer, who can give them advice on how to proceed. A legitimate, competent auto accident attorney will not charge fees for consultation.