Meri Nalbandian, a sixth grader at Eleanor J. Toll Middle School in Glendale, died in a pedestrian versus SUV accident on October 29, 2008. She was struck while walking in a lighted, marked crosswalk in the 700 block of Glenwood Road. According to several eyewitnesses, the crosswalk lights were flashing, but the female driver made no attempt to stop or even slow down. Officials said the driver seemed to have been partially blinded by the glare of the rising sun. Our sources for this blog are this KABC article and a KTLA news report.
Glendale police officials say the female driver of the SUV, who had just dropped off her son at a nearby elementary school, was “not impaired in any way” and was not speeding.
But a spokeswoman for the Glendale Unified School District says the lights in the pavement were not only flashing, but there were other children crossing and there were other motorists who did yield and stop. Clearly, there were indicators that there was a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
This is a heartbreaking tragedy for the family of Meri Nalbandian. I cannot imagine what they must be going through. I offer my deepest condolences to Meri’s family and friends.
California Vehicle Code 21950 states categorically that 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 law also states: “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 the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.”
Although police investigators seem to believe that this was an extremely unfortunate tragedy, I’d urge Meri Nalbandian’s family to seek the expert counsel of a knowledgeable Southern California pedestrian accident attorney. A skilled personal injury lawyer will be able to determine who or what caused the accident and help the victim’s family get some answers. Where there is wrongdoing or negligence involved, families of deceased victims are also entitled to wrongful death claims. These claims compensate victims’ families for the loss of a family member who has been killed because of someone else’s negligence.