Joseph Novotny, 43, was killed in a Los Angeles car accident after he was struck on his bicycle by an alleged drunk driver on Bouquet Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest, The Signal reports. Two other bicyclists Rigoberto Himenez Jr. and George Munana Jr. sustained injuries that required hospitalization while two other suffered minor injuries. The fatal bicycle accident occurred July 11, 2009 when Marco Valencia, 20, traveling north on Bouquet Canyon, crossed the double yellow lines while making a left turn in the canyon roadway, California Highway Patrol officials said. Valencia’s pickup then struck a group of bicyclists including Novotny. After that, he apparently fled the scene of the collision. He also allegedly sideswiped a Hyundai, but the car’s driver was uninjured.
Novotny was pronounced dead at the scene. Himenez and Munana were taken to an area hospital. Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department officials located Valencia in his 2001 Ford F-150 pickup truck further north along Bouquet Canyon. Valencia is facing several felony charges including murder, driving under the influence causing death and hit-and-run causing death.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Joseph Novotny, who was tragically killed in this bicycle accident. I offer my deepest condolences to them. I also wish the two injured bicyclists the very best for a quick and complete recovery. Please keep them in your prayers. Here was a group of bicyclists doing what they loved to do and they get hit by a guy who was apparently drunk on a Saturday morning. Tragic!
I sincerely hope that the suspected drunk driver in this case, Marco Valencia, is held civilly and criminally accountable for his negligence and callous disregard for the safety of others. Driving drunk or under the influence, striking someone down with your car and then running from the scene of the accident is absolutely inexcusable and certainly criminal. He must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Driving under the influence and leaving the scene of any California car accident are both serious offenses under California law. California law prohibits drivers from operating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” California Vehicle Code 20001 states that drivers are required to remain at the scene of an accident and provide identification, car insurance and other information as well as render aid to the injured victim.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), in Los Angeles, there were 94 deaths and 2,392 injuries involving alcohol-related car accidents. In Los Angeles County in 2007, 268 fatalities and 5,169 injuries were reported as a result of alcohol-related car accidents.
The family of Joseph Novotny as well as the injured victims – Himenez and Munana – would be well-advised to consult an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, who will analyze all aspects of this case and hold the negligent parties accountable. They need a personal injury lawyer, who has a successful track record of financially pursuing drunk drivers. A knowledgeable California car accident attorney will also be able to tell them how their car insurance coverage will apply to an accident case where the at-fault or negligent party does not have car insurance or sufficient car insurance. In such cases, the uninsured/underinsured motorist clause in the victims’ insurance policy could provide compensation to the injured parties and/or their families. In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased accident victims may also be able to file wrongful death claims that compensate them for funeral expenses, lost wages and other related damages.