Ventura County Sheriff’s Department officials have recently identified the driver who they say struck and killed Thousand Oaks school teacher, 42-year-old Michael Maki in a October 10, 2008 bicycle accident. According to a news report in the Ventura County Star, 21-year-old Ashley Stone of Thousand Oaks was driving east on Hillcrest Drive near Eric Place in Thousand Oaks when her car veered to the right and struck Maki.
A popular math teacher at Westlake High School, Maki was thrown from his bicycle and hit the back of a pickup truck parked on the side of the road. A coroner’s report stated that Maki died from blood clots caused by blunt-force injury. Stone has not yet been cited or charged pending an investigation, police officials said.
My heart goes out to the family of Michael Maki as well as his students at Westlake High School. This is no doubt a tremendous tragedy for the entire community.
I’d be very interested to find out how this 10/10/08 fatal bicycle accident occurred. It seems to me, based on the newspaper report, that this was the automobile driver’s fault. Apparently, she lost control of her vehicle, veered over to the side of the road and struck Michael Maki, who was riding his bicycle as per the California Vehicle Code 21202. This California code states: “Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.”
I’m sure the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department’s traffic investigators are looking into whether Stone was driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. She may have been distracted by something or someone. Or she may have simply been careless and not seen Maki riding his bike on the side of the road.
I’d urge the family of Michael Maki to retain the services of an experienced Southern California personal injury attorney, who will help protect their legal rights and make a determination as to what happened and who should be held accountable for this tragic accident. If I were representing the family, I would also look into whether there was a dangerous condition on that Thousand Oaks roadway, especially a visual obstruction, which hampered Stone’s view of the street.
If a hazardous roadway condition is believed to have played a part in this accident, then the governmental entity responsible for maintaining that roadway could be held liable for the accident. Please remember that any claim against a governmental agency must be filed within six months of the accident.