Two women were killed in an Apple Valley auto accident on November 17, 2008. They have been identified as Benedita Rodarte, 47, and 73-year-old Katherine Walton, both residents of Oro Grande. According to a news report in the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the 11/17/08 fatal crash occurred after the driver of a pickup truck turned left in front of the women’s 1997 Ford Escort. The accident occurred at the intersection of Highway 18 and Rancherias Road in Apple Valley.
Rodarte was heading west on Highway 18 and had just entered the intersection when the 2002 GMC pickup turned in front of them, according to the San Bernardino Coroner’s report. Both women were taken to an area hospital where they died shortly after the crash.
I offer my deepest condolences to the families of Benedita Rodarte and Katherine Walton, who were killed in this tragic crash. They will certainly be in my prayers.
It seems to me, based on this newspaper report, that the driver of the GMC pickup truck was at fault. If the light at that intersection was green, the driver of the pickup would have had to yield right-of-way to Rodarte.
California Vehicle Code Section 21801 (a) states: “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.”
In my opinion, the driver of the GMC pickup, whom police have not yet identified, should be held responsible for this tragic accident. Traffic investigators are also probably looking into whether the driver of the pickup was operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. If that is the case, then he or she will also be facing criminal vehicular manslaughter changes.
I’d urge the families of Benedita Rodarte and Katherine Walton to retain the services of an experienced California wrongful death attorney, who will fight for their rights and make sure those responsible for this tragic accident, are held accountable. A skilled auto accident lawyer will also look into whether a dangerous roadway or intersection was a factor in this fatal crash. If that is the case, then the government agency responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held liable. Any claim against a government agency must be filed promptly within six months of the accident.