Los Angeles County Auto Accident Kills Well-Known Writer
Michael Sommer, a noted writer and political consultant, died in an Los Angeles auto accident after he was struck in the parking lot of a medical building in Agoura Hills, according to an article in the Ventura County Star. Sommer, 73, a Thousand Oaks resident, was sitting on a retaining wall along the 29500 block of Canwood Street with his 98-year-old mother, Ann Sommer, on March 25, 2009 when a sedan hit both of them. The impact from the crash nearly severed one of Sommer’s legs. Both Sommer and his mother died of fatal injuries.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials say that the accident occurred when 75-year-old Elaine Roth of Woodland Hills was trying to park her car. Roth stepped on the accelerator instead of stepping on the brake. Her sedan jumped over a concrete wheel-stop and crashed into the retaining wall where Sommer and his mother were sitting. Police say alcohol did not seem to have been a factor in this fatal Agoura Hills car crash. Sommer was waiting at the time for his wife, Veronika, to pick them up.
This is no doubt a heartbreaking loss for the Sommer family. I offer my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Michael and Ann Sommer. Michael Sommer was a political adviser to the campaigns of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter. He was also a newswriter for several Los Angeles radio and television stations and later became a speech writer as well.
This is yet another incident just in the past week, that throws the spotlight on the issue of senior drivers. On March 29, 2009, an 88-year-old man crashed into a Redondo Beach injuring five people. It was almost an identical case with that driver hitting the accelerator instead of the brake.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, California now has almost 3 million drivers who are 65 years or older. That number is only going to increase in the next few years with the aging of baby boomers. It is about time that California lawmakers tighten up driving laws for seniors. The way it works now is the DMV waits to get reports of a senior’s inability to drive from either law enforcement or relatives of the elderly driver. But, sadly this action or the lack of it on the DMV’s part, endangers the safety of other California motorists who share the roads with these elderly drivers. In most cases, we wait for an “incident” to happen before we take the senior driver’s keys away. Our laws need to get more proactive and require senior drivers to test more frequently and in person so problems with issues such as cognition or vision can be detected right away. This will go a long way in preventing Southern California auto accidents that cause serious injuries to innocent bystanders as well as the senior drivers.