A popular Cal State Bakersfield athlete who was killed the night of February 8, 2009 in a DUI traffic collision has been identified as 18-year-old Noemi Perez. According to a news report in the Bakersfield Californian, Francisco Nestor Santo was driving east on Highway 223 near Vineland Road when he entered the westbound lane and hit a vehicle driven by Francisco Becerra. The 22-year-old Santo then continued driving eastbound in the westbound lane and collided with a 2000 Hyundai driven by Perez. Becerra was not injured, but Perez was pronounced dead.
Santo suffered moderate injuries in the crash, but was arrested on suspicion of felony drunk driving, gross vehicular manslaughter, driving without a license and failure to provide proof of insurance.
I offer my deepest sympathies to everyone who knew and loved Noemi Perez. Apparently, she was an extremely promising athlete who was in her university’s track team and had big plans for the future. How heartbreaking for her family that must have had such high hopes for this young woman. They will certainly be in my prayers.
There is no question here that Santo should be held criminally and civilly responsible for what happened to young Perez. But according to the article, he had no license and no insurance? What happens in cases where the at-fault motorist has no insurance coverage? This is where the underinsured/uninsured motorist clause in the victim’s own auto insurance policy would kick in. If the other driver lacks insurance, then in these cases, your insurance company will step in and provide compensation.
The family of Noemi Perez would be well-advised to contact an experienced Bakersfield auto accident attorney who is knowledgeable about how insurance policies apply to auto accidents involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Please remember to review your auto insurance policy and ensure you’re carrying this type of coverage and that you and your family are well-protected in the event of an auto accident. This insurance is absolutely essential, especially in California where the percentage of uninsured motorists is rising steadily.