October 29, 2012—Los Angeles, California—According to ABC News sources, two homeless people sleeping on a sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles were killed by a driver who is suspected to have been under the influence at the time of the accident.
Carmen Elena Chavez, 19, was driving a Mercedes-Benz east on Fourth Street just after midnight on Sunday when she ran off the roadway, hit a curb, and traveled onto the sidewalk. On the sidewalk, she struck two transient people and dragged them about 50 feet. Both victims were pronounced dead by first responders to the scene.
At first, four people exited the car and ran from the scene. However, Chavez and two other passengers returned and were arrested. Chavez was charged with vehicular manslaughter and DUI and is being held on a $100,000 bond.
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these two unfortunate victims.
Pedestrian Deaths are High in Los Angeles
Los Angeles has the highest rate of pedestrian accidents of any city in California. According to the Statewide Integrated Traffic Report, there were 195 pedestrian fatalities and 4,535 pedestrian injuries in Los Angeles County in 2010. 100 of those fatalities and 2,512 of the injuries took place in the city limits of Los Angeles. Obviously, pedestrian injury and fatality in Los Angeles remains an issue that deserves consideration by officials and measured designed to protect the safety of walkers and bikers.
What Happened In This Accident
According to police sources, this driver was drunk at the time of the accident. That means that she may face criminal charges for manslaughter for her role in the accident. Further, since she initially fled the scene, she may face hit-and-run charges as well. On the other hand, since she returned to the scene, a judge may be more lenient about the hit-and-run aspect of the case.
If the initial assumption that the driver was drunk is true, then the driver will face liability for two wrongful deaths if the families of the victims decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. This means that the driver may be liable for medical attention if any was given to the victims, funeral expenses, and payments for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages. A Los Angeles wrongful death attorney can assess the case and help the families decide if a wrongful death suit is in order.