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Car Accident in Ceres Kills 13-year-old Girl


Danielle Tarancon-Leon, 13, was killed and four other junior high school girls were injured in a pedestrian accident in Ceres after they were struck by a raised pickup truck whose driver, officials say, ran a stop sign. According to an Associated Press news report, the fatal truck accident occurred the morning of February 9, 2011. Witnesses told officials that 45-year-old Larry Dale Duke ran a stop sign at a street intersection and plowed into a group of 13- and 14-year-old girls who were walking to nearby Mae Hensley Junior High.

Witnesses also told officials that Duke was either on the phone or wearing earphones covering both ears shortly before the fatal car accident. Danielle died at the scene while the others’ injuries ranged from minor to major. No charges have been filed against Duke pending an official investigation.

I offer my deepest condolences to everybody who knew and loved Danielle Tarancon-Leon for their tremendous loss. My heart also goes out to the other young victims who were injured in this horrific accident. I wish them the very best for a speedy and complete recovery. These victims and their families will certainly be in my thoughts and prayers.

Car Accident Statistics

According to California Highway Patrol’s 2008 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), one person was killed and 143 were injured in car accidents in Ceres. In Stanislaus County as a whole, 45 deaths and 2,583 injuries were reported due to car accidents during the same year.

What Caused This Tragic Accident?

Based on this news report, officials are still examining conflicting witness reports and Duke’s own statements to determine precisely what occurred here. Some witnesses say they saw Duke run the stop sign. California Vehicle Code Section 21802 (a) requires drivers to come to a complete stop at a stop sign and proceed with caution.

Others say they saw him talking on the cell phone or using earphones. It is illegal under California law to talk on the cell phone or using earphones or head phones that cover both ears while driving. However, investigators say there was no evidence of cell phone use or of Duke using earphones at the time. Duke himself told officials that he may have fallen asleep at the wheel or blacked out due to a medical condition. Officials will have to sift through the evidence here and determine the facts.

Fault and Liability

If the driver is determined to have been at fault here, he could be held both criminally and civilly liable. Danielle’s family and the families of the other injured victims would be well-advised to seek the counsel of an experienced California personal injury lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and make sure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.

Lost a family member in a California car accident? Want to know your rights? Want to know what your case is worth? Want compensation? Want justice? Want to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to another family?

Call your best friends in the legal industry after a fatal Stanislaus County pedestrian accident. Call 800-481-8656. The call is free. The advice may be priceless.

Call a Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys California wrongful death lawyer for a free professional evaluation of your rights by attorneys who have been representing families of deceased accident victims since 1978. You will experience award winning representation and outstanding personal service by a compassionate and understanding law firm in a comfortable environment.

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