The bad fortune of being stranded on a freeway in Northern California as the result of getting a flat tire was transformed into something far worse last week. Three family members traveling together were killed by an elderly motorist said to be traveling at a high speed. The fatal accident took the lives of a 48-year-old mother, her 21-year-old daughter, and her 28-year-old son. The father, the fourth family member in the car, survived.
California Highway Patrol officers have announced intentions to lodge criminal charges against an 82-year-old male driver who they said slammed into the family's out of commission Lexus with his speeding Volkswagen SUV. The crash took place on the shoulder of Interstate 280, where the family had pulled their vehicle over after suffering a flat tire.
The family was en route to an airport to fly out of town to visit relatives for the holidays. Three of the family members' lives could not be saved, despite the best efforts of medical personnel. The male driver who struck their vehicle himself suffered injuries serious enough to require surgery, but medical personnel characterized the injuries as non-life-threatening.
In addition to speeding, officers said that the at-fault driver veered out of his proper lane, without which he would not have hit the family's car on the side of the road. The investigation of the crash and its causes is continuing and no decision has been reached yet on what specific criminal charges the man will face.
Although California's "Move Over" law only mandates that drivers make room for stalled emergency vehicles, it makes common sense to slow down or move over when a regular passenger car is stalled on the side of the road, rather than to continue speeding. If the driver in this case had taken just a bit more caution, the victims might still be alive today.
Source: Mercury News, "Flat tire on freeway led to deadly crash," Dec. 17, 2012
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