Eight people were injured, three in critical condition, after a Hemet car accident where a Hemet High School student ran a red light. According to a news article in The Press-Enterprise, the major injury collision occurred on Stetson Avenue where dozens of students were crossing to get from the main campus to the student parking lot. Police say the students were legally crossing the road, but it was the young driver who ran the red light and struck them.
Witnesses say a the teen was driving a Ford Ranger, which was modified to be an off-road vehicle, west on Stetson. He entered the right turn lane to drive into the parking area. But, for an unknown reason, the truck accelerated and went straight instead of turning. Students said they could “hear bones crunching” and students screaming as the truck hit the crowd. School officials apparently have the accident recorded on multiple cameras that are stationed around the campus. Copies of those videos have been turned in to investigators. California Highway Patrol officials detained the driver. It is not clear if he will be charged.
My thoughts and prayers are with the injured students, their families and the entire high school community that is reeling from this horrific incident. I wish the injured victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were two deaths and 26 injuries involving pedestrian accidents in Hemet. In Riverside County as a whole, 39 people died and 370 were injured due to pedestrian accidents, during the same year.
Violation of Laws
Based on this news report, the driver of the truck not only ran the red light, but also plowed into the students who were walking in a marked crosswalk. California Vehicle Code Section 21950 states: “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.”
The same section also states that the driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk “shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of a vehicle or take any other action relating to the operating of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.” Running a red light is a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 21453 (a).
Protecting Victims’ Rights
I trust officials are still looking into why the driver accelerated and plowed into the pedestrians. In such cases, the at-fault motorist can be held liable for injuries and damages caused. Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation to cover damages including medical expenses, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Pedestrian accident victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.