Michaela Aurora Zickuhr, 16, was killed in a Riverside car accident after the pickup in which she was a passenger collided with another vehicle, The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. The head-on truck collision occurred the morning of April 19, 2009. Zickuhr was apparently in a truck heading south on Wood Road when it hit another pickup truck traveling west on Mariposa Avenue.
The driver of the other pickup, Geronimo Rodriguez, 23, of Moreno Valley, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, Riverside police officials said. Zickuhr was a rear passenger and officials think she may not have been wearing her seatbelt, but are not sure. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. The driver and another passenger in Zickuhr’s vehicle were also hospitalized with personal injuries.
My heart goes out to the family of young Michaela Aurora Zickuhr, who was so suddenly and tragically taken away from all those who knew and loved her. I offer my deepest condolences to them.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System, there were 29 traffic accident deaths and 1,891 injuries involving traffic accidents in Riverside. In Riverside County as a whole, there were 279 deaths and 9,925 personal injuries reported because of car accidents. Also, in Riverside County during 2007, there were reports of 129 deaths and 1,279 injuries because of alcohol-related traffic accidents.
Based on this newspaper report, it appears that the pickup truck driver, Rodriguez, was at fault for this fatal car collision. It is of course against California law to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a) states: “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.”
Michaela’s family and the injured victims would be well advised to contact experienced California car accident attorneys, who will examine the facts of this case and hold the negligent parties accountable for their actions. A skilled California personal injury attorney will also be able to look into whether there was a dangerous condition at that Riverside street intersection that may have caused or contributed to this crash. If that is the case the city or the governmental agency responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held accountable. Please remember that a personal injury claim against a California governmental agency must be properly filed within six months of the accident.
If I were one of Michaela’s family members, I would also look into whether there were any seatbelt defects that contributed to Michaela’s fatal injuries. The best California auto product defect attorneys will use experts to determine whether there was a seatbelt failure during this Riverside street intersection crash.