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Woman Killed in Los Angeles DUI Car Accident


A 41-year-old woman was killed in a Los Angeles car accident caused by a suspected drunk driver the morning of December 20, 2009, the Pasadena Star News reports. California Highway Patrol officials say 43-year-old Thomas E. Vanauken was driving a 2009 Acura MDX SUV on the 10 Freeway near Santa Anita Avenue, in El Monte. He was in the number one lane and traveling at a high rate of speed, possibly over 120 mph, according to eyewitnesses. The woman was also in the number one lane and in front of the Acura, driving a 1995 Mitsubishi with two passengers, when she slowed down for traffic ahead.

Vanauken’s vehicle then rear-ended the Mitsubishi. She died shortly afterward at a local hospital. One of the passengers in the Mitsubishi, a 32-year-old woman sustained moderate injuries, while the other, a 35-year-old woman was uninjured. Vanauken sustained minor injuries and was booked on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, drunk driving causing death and felony drunk driving.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of this woman who was fatally injured due to the apparent negligence of a drunk driver. My heart goes out to everyone who knew and loved this woman. Please keep them in your prayers. I also sympathize with the passenger who was injured and hope she makes a quick and complete recovery as well.

Alcohol-Related Car Accidents

According to CHP’s 2007 traffic accident statistics, five fatalities and 46 injuries in the city of El Monte were the result of alcohol-related car accidents. In Los Angeles County as a whole, DUI car accidents caused 268 deaths and 5,169 injuries in 2007.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an extremely serious crime in California. According to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”

California DUI Laws

A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face gross vehicular manslaughter charges, as Vanauken does in this case. 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.”

Wrongful Death Claims

Where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased car accident victims may file wrongful death claims seeking compensation to cover medical/funeral expenses, loss of earnings, loss of love and companionship and other related damages. Victims’ families would be well-advised to consult a truly reputed Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, with a successful track record of holding negligent and drunk drivers financially responsible for their reckless actions. The best personal injury law firms will always offer a free and comprehensive consultation to injured victims and their families.

The Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys is not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our information source is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call us or another reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free consultation. We provide a free, confidential consultation to not at fault persons named in this article. The free consultation offer extends to family members as well.

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