Gwendolyn Wheeler, a 49-year-old woman, was struck and killed on November 1, 2008 when a pickup truck crashed into a taxi that had stopped in front of Wheeler. According to a news report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wheeler was selling flowers on Lake Jennings Park Road in the East County area near Interstate 8 when she was fatally struck down. Officials say the pickup driver was driving under the influence of prescription medication.
Wheeler was apparently talking to a taxi driver who had pulled over on the shoulder of the road when a pickup truck driver rear-ended the cab, which in turn, struck Wheeler.
California Highway Patrol officials said eyewitnesses saw the pickup truck heading west on Old Highway 80 at Lake Jennings Park Road. The driver of the pickup then made a right turn onto North Lake Jennings Park Road driving across the lanes into the shoulder.
Witnesses then saw the pickup veer back on the roadway before crashing into the right rear of the taxi, CHP officials said. Wheeler was transported to an area hospital where she passed away. The driver of the taxi also suffered major injuries in this 11/1/08 accident.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Gwendolyn Wheeler, who was clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wheeler, a longtime flower-seller at that location, apparently had loyal customers and a great attitude to life. I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved Gwendolyn Wheeler.
Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs – any drug — is illegal in California as it is in the rest of the Untied States. California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (a) states: “It is unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”
Based on eyewitness reports provided by the CHP, it is apparent that the driver of the pickup truck was disoriented, to say the least, before he or she crashed into the taxi cab.
The family of Gwendolyn Wheeler, as well as the seriously injured taxi driver, would be well-advised to retain the services of a California auto accident attorney who is an expert in wrongful death lawsuits and serious personal injury cases.
The driver of the pickup truck will very likely face criminal vehicular manslaughter charges for driving under the influence and causing a fatal traffic collision. But he should also be held financially responsible for causing this horrific crash and the resulting injuries and death. A skilled personal injury lawyer will also look into other factors such as whether the driver of the pickup was on-the-job or running an errand for someone at the time of the accident. If that is the case, the driver’s employer or the person he was running the errand for, could also be held liable for the accident.