Fatal Riverside County Bicycle Accident
Michael A. Cole, 49 was killed in an Indio bicycle accident after he was hit by a suspected drunk driver, The Desert Sun reports. Arturo R. Hernandez, 64, was driving his pickup truck on Highway 111 near Madison Street the night of March 17, 2009 when he struck Cole, who was riding his bicycle. Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and released so a complaint could be filed. Indio police officials say that Hernandez had been arrested on March 8, 2009 on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI and released from the jail the next day on $2,500 bail. Hernandez is facing a vehicular manslaughter charge as well.
My heart goes out to the family of Michael Cole for their tragic loss. I offer my deepest sympathies to everyone who knew and loved Cole. Please keep them in your prayers. It is heartbreaking that Cole died because this person decided to drink and drive.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2006 traffic accident statistics, there were no bicycle accident fatalities reported in Indio. There were, however, 14 injuries related to bicycle accidents that were reported. In Riverside County as whole, 15 deaths and 359 injuries were attributed to bicycle accidents in 2006. Also for the same year in Riverside County, 136 traffic accident fatalities occurred that were alcohol-related.
In California, it is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” The same code section also states that it is illegal for any person with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more to drive a vehicle.
In this case, what is infuriating is that Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor DUI just days before he apparently caused this fatal accident. Had he stayed away from repeating his mistake, Cole would have been alive. The family of Michael Cole would be well-advised to retain the services of a reputed Riverside pedestrian accident attorney experienced in DUI cases. A skilled personal injury attorney would also look into whether there was a dangerous condition on the highway that contributed to this Indio fatal accident.
If this driver was uninsured or lacked adequate insurance, Cole’s family could be covered under the uninsured/underinsured clause of any other auto insurance policy he had benefits under. However, please remember that the process of dealing with the insurance company can be extremely long and difficult and is best handled with the assistance of an experienced attorney.