Ella Anne Jefferson, 69, of Hemet, was killed in a Riverside car accident, which officials say, involved a suspected drunk driver. According to a news article in The Press-Enterprise, the fatal DUI collision occurred on Domenigoni Parkway near Leon Road in Winchester, the morning of December 26, 2011. California Highway Patrol officials report Ryan Mahan, 20, was speeding and weaving through traffic as he headed west on Domenigoni Parkway, when he lost control of his vehicle, which jumped over the curb and dirt divider. Mahan’s 2003 Saturn Ion then traveled into the eastbound fast lane where it crashed head-on into Jefferson’s gold 2011 Toyota Camry. Jefferson sustained fatal injuries, while Mahan suffered two broken legs and internal injuries. He is expected to be charged with felony DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Ella Anne Jefferson for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Riverside County DUI Statistics
According to CHP’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were 27 fatalities and 363 injuries involving alcohol-related crashes in the unincorporated areas of Riverside County. Also, countywide, DUI collisions claimed 87 lives and caused 986 injuries, during the same year.
DUI and Vehicular Manslaughter
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the Saturn, Mahan, was under the influence of alcohol and driving recklessly just before he slammed head-on into Jefferson’s Toyota. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152, 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.”
Holding Negligent Drivers Accountable
In such cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, the family of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver seeking compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income ad benefits, loss of love and companionship, and other related damages. An experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer will also be able to inform victims’ families about how their own auto insurance policy applies to an incident where the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured. 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.