A 28-year-old woman, Oralia Casarez, and three young children – Jesus Felix Casarez, 8, Jose Felix Casarez, 7, and Guadalupe Felix Casarez, 11 months – were all killed in an October 26, 2008 DUI auto accident in Thermal, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reports. The 10/26/08 crash occurred after the driver of a Cadillac CTS ran a stop sign on Harrison Street at Avenue 62 and rammed into the driver’s side of a Ford Taurus occupied by Casarez and the children.
The Ford spun out of control, hit two concrete barriers and a fire hydrant before breaking in half. All the children, who were sitting in the rear seat, were ejected. Casarez and all three children were pronounced dead at the scene. A 30-year-old man, also in the Taurus, suffered a head injury. California Highway Patrol officials said the driver of the Cadillac, 33-year-old Andres Z. Luna of Thermal, has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence and four counts of vehicular manslaughter.
This is a tremendous tragedy for the family for Oralia Casarez and the three children – Jesus, Jose and Guadalupe. I offer my condolences to this family for their unspeakable loss. They will be in my prayers.
According to CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS), in 2006, there were a total of 316 auto accident related fatalities in Riverside County out of which 136 were alcohol-related. There were also 1,294 injuries that were attributed to traffic collisions involving alcohol for that same time period.
There is no question that Andres Luna, the suspected drunk driver in this accident, should be held criminally and civilly responsible for causing the accident and the fatal injuries. According to California Vehicle Code Section 191.5 (a): Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle…and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence.”
The Casarez family would be well-advised to consult a reputed Riverside DUI accident attorney, who will go after the Luna and get the Casarez family the justice and compensation they deserve. Money won’t bring back Casarez or the three children who died in this tragic crash. But it will help the family deal with funeral expenses for the woman and three children and the medical expenses for the man.
A skilled California personal injury lawyer will also look into whether a dangerous road condition or a dangerous intersection was a factor in this Thermal fatal collision. If that is the case, then the city could be held liable. Any claim against a government agency must be filed within six months of the accident.