A 27-year-old Rialto man who was struck and killed by a pickup truck on December 27, 2008 on the 57 Freeway has been identified as Westley Matavoa. According to this report in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Matavoa was standing on the right shoulder of the 57 Freeway just south of the Interstate 10. He was adjusting furniture that was tied to the back of his vehicle when he and another friend were struck by the pickup.
Matavoa was driving a Kia Spectra and following 28-year-old Helene Salanoa of Santa Ana. The furniture in the bed of Salanoa’s truck got loose, so she pulled over to the right shoulder and Matavoa also pulled over to help. When he was adjusting the furniture, the driver of a Ford F-150 veered into the right shoulder and struck both Salanoa and Matavoa. Salanoa suffered moderate injuries, but Matavoa was killed.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Westley Matavoa. My heart also goes out to Helene Salanoa, who witnessed her friend getting struck and killed in addition to suffering injuries herself. I wish her the very best for a quick and complete recovery.
Based on this newspaper report, it appears to me that the driver of the Ford F-150 pickup truck was at fault for this tragic accident. The California Highway Patrol’s investigation will undoubtedly focus on why the driver of the pickup veered into the right shoulder and struck Matavoa and Salanoa. It seems that the driver of the pickup has not yet been charged or cited pending an investigation. If he or she was under the influence at the time of the crash, vehicular manslaughter and felony DUI charges could be filed against him. This may have also happened because the driver lost control of the vehicle for some reason or was distracted.
Whatever the reason, Matavoa’s family and Salanoa would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced Southern California auto accident attorney who will determine who or what caused this accident and who should be held responsible for it. A skilled personal injury lawyer will also look into other factors that may have caused this accident such as mechanical malfunction, a product defect or a dangerous condition on the road.
Where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims will be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, which basically compensates the victim’s family for medical or funeral expenses and loss of wages.