Six people were injured, one critically, in a San Jose car accident the afternoon of July 13, 2010, after a man being pursued by CHP officers ran a red light at an intersection and broadsided another vehicle. According to a KTVU news report, the major injury collision occurred at the intersection of East San Fernando and South 10th streets, when 24-year-old Bernardino Cuevas ran a red light and crashed into a Mitsubishi Mirage driven by a 35-year-old woman, who was with her three children.
The driver sustained moderate facial injuries, but her 15-year-old daughter, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, was ejected from the vehicle and sustained life-threatening injuries. The woman’s two sons, 12 and 6, suffered serious injuries but are said to be in stable condition. Cuevas fled the scene after the crash, but was apprehended by police. Cuevas faces several felony charges. An investigation is ongoing.
My heart goes out to this family that has three of its children in serious condition at the hospital. I hope and pray all three of these children make it through their injuries and go on to make a complete recovery. This family will definitely be in my thoughts and prayers.
There were 44 fatalities and 3,627 injuries involving car accidents in San Jose, in 2008, according to CHP’s traffic accident statistics. In Santa Clara County as a whole, 94 people died and 6,770 were injured as a result of car accidents during the same year.
Violation of Guidelines?
Based on news reports, CHP officials began chasing Cuevas after a traffic violation. They have since determined that the suspect had a felony warrant. The agency is conducting an internal investigation in order to determine whether the officer in question followed CHP’s guidelines for high speed pursuits.
I trust CHP will bring in an outside agency to conduct an independent investigation of the officer involved in this incident. In my opinion, it is a challenge for any law enforcement agency to conduct a fair and objective investigation of one of their own. An independent investigation is much-needed in such cases.
In this particular case, the female driver and her three children were “innocent bystanders,” who became victims of a high-speed police pursuit. I would question the need for a CHP officer to pursue someone at high speed for a traffic violation. Apparently the officer did not know at the time that Cuevas was wanted on a felony warrant. I trust the agency’s investigators are also asking some questions here. Did the end justify the means? Was this police pursuit warranted? Was it worth putting public safety at risk?
The victims in this case would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced San Francisco personal injury lawyer, who will stay on top of the official investigation and make sure that the victims’ legal rights are protected. If the officer is determined to have been at-fault, then the victims could file a claim against the California Highway Patrol, who is the officer’s employer. Under California Government Code section 911.2, any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental entity must be properly filed within 180 days of the incident.
What is your opinion about when police officials should get involved in high-speed pursuits?
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.