Six Orange County teenagers who were on their way to Big Bear for snowboarding were injured the night of January 25, 2009 after their Chevrolet Tahoe sport utility vehicle veered off Highway 18 in Running Springs, rolled over and plummeted down an embankment. This news report in the Mountain News identifies the injured victims as Kevin Hynes, 19, of Huntington Beach; Robert Conolly, 19, of Costa Mesa; Nicholas and William Judd, both 18, of Huntington Beach; Jarron Ertz, 18, of Huntington Beach; and Joshua Erber Stout, 18, of Huntington Beach.
The 2000 Chevy Tahoe, driven by Hynes, went off the mountain road in thick fog, flipped on its roof, went down an embankment and came to rest among trees about 25 feet below the highway, California Highway Patrol officials said. The visibility on that highway was about 20 feet when the accident occurred. There was no guard rail at that location. Conolly and Nicholas Judd, who were in the SUV’s second row, suffered severe injuries with Judd suffering a major fracture on his right leg and Conolly suffering a toe fracture. Ertz suffered a broken jaw. The three others suffered relatively minor injuries. All occupants except Nicholas Judd were said to have been wearing seatbelts.
My heart goes out to all these teenagers, who were probably out there looking forward to a good time when this unfortunate auto rollover accident occurred. I am extremely relieved that this did not turn out into a significant tragedy as it could have. These teenagers are extremely lucky to be alive. It’s great to hear that alcohol or drugs were not involved and all but one were buckled up. I wish all of them the very best for a quick and complete recovery.
Eyewitnesses apparently said Hynes was driving very carefully and going at 10 miles an hour. Had they been going any faster the injuries could have been worse. It is interesting to note that there was no guardrail at that location. Could this rollover accident have been prevented had there been a guardrail on that highway?
If I were a parent of one of the victims, I would also have the Chevy Tahoe thoroughly inspected by an expert for product defects or mechanical malfunctions. This can be best done by contacting a reputed Orange County auto product defect law firm that will have the resources and access to nationally renowned experts. I would especially check for steering problems that may have caused the driver to lose control. This recent article lists the Chevy Tahoe as one of many GM vehicle models to have a steering lock-up problem especially at a slow speed. A skilled personal injury attorney would also be able to determine whether the absence of a guardrail at this location may have created a dangerous condition on that highway.