Chekina Duran, 10, was killed and her father, 56-year-old Antonio Duran suffered injuries in a Los Angeles car crash after an SUV driven by a suspected drunk driver struck them as they were walking at a street intersection. According to a City News Service report, the fatal accident occurred at the intersection of 64th Street and Hooper Avenue in the unincorporated Florence area, the night of July 4, 2012.
Police say Juan Zazares, 58, was backing up a Ford Expedition SUV when he struck a parked vehicle, then proceeded in reverse before running over the girl and hitting her father. Cazares drove away, but was followed by a witness who stopped him and brought him back to the scene. Zazares has been arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, hit-and-run causing injury or death, DUI causing injury with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or greater and assault with a deadly weapon.
My heart goes out to the Duran family that has lost a young family member due to the actions of a suspected drunk driver. I offer my deepest condolences to them. I also wish Antonio Duran the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Accident Statistics in Los Angeles
There were 35 fatalities and 596 injuries involving drunk driving crashes in the city of Los Angeles in 2009, according to the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). In Los Angeles County as a whole, 204 people died and 4,672 were injured due to alcohol-related collisions, during the same year. Also, countywide, pedestrian accidents claimed 179 lives and injured 4,918 people, during the same year.
Violations of the Law
Based on this news account, the driver of the Ford SUV was not only operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, but he also struck the pedestrians and left a little girl lying on the street with critical injuries. Unconscionable! I commend the witness who had the courage to stop the hit-and-run driver and return him to the scene.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a), operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal. A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges under California Penal Code Section 191.5 (a). In addition, the driver left the scene of an injury and fatal car accident, which is a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a).
Compensation for Victims and Families
In such cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim and injured victims can file a personal injury claim seeking damages. Victims or their families would be well advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles injury attorney who has a successful track record of financially pursuing drunk drivers. 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.