Lance Corporal Robert T. Austin, 20, was killed in a San Diego car accident the morning of October 10, 2009 after he was struck by a suspected drunk driver. According to a news report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Austin, a U.S. Marine stationed in Twentynine Palms, was with a group of other Marines riding in a Jeep Cherokee that was involved in a minor crash. The Jeep was headed north on the 15 Freeway in Escondido when it was rear-ended by a driver of a Volvo, causing the Jeep to spin out of control. Austin and several others got out of the Jeep. Moments later, a Chevy Cavalier crashed into the Jeep. Austin was knocked off the freeway by the Cavalier and pushed down an embankment to the canyon below.
The driver of the Cavalier and his passenger fled the scene of the crash on foot. Shortly afterward, the driver of another Jeep – a Grand Cherokee model, crashed into the abandoned Cavalier. The driver of that vehicle, 21-year-old Sarah Garcia, was killed. Austin died shortly after the crash and three other Marines were treated for minor injuries. The driver of the Cavalier, 18-year-old Oscar Tinoco and the passenger, an unidentified 17-year-old, were arrested. Tinoco was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, felony driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Robert T. Austin and Sarah Garcia for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. I offer my deepest condolences to them. Please keep them in your prayers. I also wish the injured Marines the very best for a quick and complete recovery.
San Diego DUI Car Accident Statistics
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were six fatalities and 102 injuries involving alcohol-related car accidents in Escondido, California. In San Diego County as a whole, 116 deaths and 2,068 injuries occurred as a result of alcohol-related car crashes in 2007.
I hope the suspected drunk driver in this California car accident, Oscar Tinoco, is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law not only for allegedly driving under the influence, but also for leaving the scene of the accident. His negligent actions apparently caused the death of two young people and injured several others. If the charges are correct, Tinoco should be held civilly and criminally responsible for his actions.
California Car Accident Laws and Liability Issues
Both, driving under the influence and hit-and-run are serious crimes. 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.” Also, California Vehicle Code section 20001 states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.”
The families of Robert Austin and Sarah Garcia would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced California personal injury lawyer, who will help hold the negligent parties here accountable for what happened. A skilled car accident lawyer will also be able to advise victims and their families about how their own car insurance policy will apply to a car accident involving a hit-and-run driver or an uninsured or underinsured driver. The best personal injury law firms will always offer a free and comprehensive initial consultation to injured victims and/or their families.
The Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys is not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our information source is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call us or another reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free consultation. We provide a free, confidential consultation to not at fault persons named in this article. The free consultation offer extends to family members as well.