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Charges could be coming for drivers in fatal Bay Area crash

Posted on in Wrongful Death

The California Highway Patrol is wrapping up its investigation of a crash that killed a 19-year-old Gavilan College basketball player in November, and charges could be filed soon against the drivers involved.

The early November fatal accident happened around 1:30 a.m. as five young men were heading south on U.S. Highway 101 after a night out at a San Francisco club. The driver said he spotted a tire in the road and swerved to avoid it, causing his black Cadillac sedan to collide with the center median. The car came to a stop in the fast lane and was soon hit by a sports car driven by a 43-year-old San Francisco man.

One of the passengers was severely injured and died two weeks later. The driver and other passengers suffered minor injuries, as did the driver of the Nissan 300zx that slammed into the Cadillac. Both drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, but a toxicology report later showed the driver of the Cadillac was not drunk or on drugs.

Once the CHP finishes its investigation, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office will decide whether to charge either of the drivers. Although at least one of them hadn't been drinking, they could face other charges based on their driving. Although the tire in the road presented an unpredictable hazard, swerving to avoid an obstruction in the road is generally more dangerous than simply slowing down and hitting it. As for the driver who slammed into the Cadillac, police are investigating whether he could have minimized the impact by slowing down or even changing lanes, depending on how fast he was going and how far ahead the car in the road was when he saw it.

Meanwhile, the family of the young basketball player is mourning a loss that could have been avoided. If the district attorney's office finds that the drivers were negligent or reckless in their actions, they may be subject to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the victim's family.

Source: Morgan Hill Times, "CHP finishing investigation into wreck that killed Gaines," Feb. 20, 2012

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