Joseph Castro, 20, was killed in a San Bernardino car accident which officials say involved a suspected drunk driver striking an embankment. According to a news report in The Press Enterprise, the fatal DUI collision occurred at the corner of Kimball and Hellman avenues in Chino, during the early morning hours of September 24, 2011. Victor Martinez, 22, crashed a Cadillac Catera in which Castro was a passenger. Other passengers – a 19-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl – were also hospitalized with major injuries. Martinez has been arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter.
My heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of Joseph Castro following this fatal car accident. My thoughts and prayers are also with the injured victims of this tragic accident. I wish them the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Drunk Driving Statistics
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), one person was killed and 34 were injured in alcohol-related crashes in Chino. During that same year, there were 98 fatalities and 945 injuries reported involving San Bernardino County DUI collisions.
California DUI Laws
If the details of this news report are accurate, the driver, Martinez, was impaired when he lost control and crashed the Cadillac. Under California law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges.
California Penal Code Section 191.5 (a) states: “Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.”
In such cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, the family of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, and loss of companionship. Injured victims can file a claim to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation and other damages.
Car accident victims and their families would be well-advised to contact an experienced San Bernardino personal injury lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that the negligent parties are held liable. For more information about the dangers of driving under the influence, please visit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) web site at www.madd.org.