A 21-year-old man recently led police on a high-speed interstate chase that began in Oceanside and ended in death and destruction. The man slammed his Honda Civic into another parked car as he tried to flee, seriously injuring himself and killing his passenger, another 21-year-old male.
Unfortunately, many of these dangerous chases end in car accidents, and sadly, many times the victim is an innocent person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The California Highway Patrol has a duty to protect the public from danger to the best of their abilities, but sometimes even the best law enforcement efforts can't bring in a motorist who chooses to flee at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.
The man in question pled not guilty to his criminal charges, including murder and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. The man has a record of dangerous traffic violations, including at least three speeding citations and a DUI conviction.
The murder charge stems from the death of his passenger, who died at the scene of the accident when the driver's car hit a dip in the road and violently crashed into a parked truck.
Drivers owe a duty of care to their passengers, and though merely negligent drivers may not be liable for damages caused to those riding in their vehicles, a person who acts with reckless disregard for another passenger's safety can be found liable for any harm that befalls that passenger. In this case the driver potentially could be held civilly liable for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, in addition to the criminal .
Source: KFMB-TV, "Man pleads not guilty to manslaughter in fatal crash," Nov. 20, 2012