Diana Mendoza, 26, was killed in a Los Angeles car accident after a suspected drunk driver crashed into the stalled car she was in. According to an article in the Whittier Daily News, 20-year-old Criselda Valderrama, who was driving a 1991 Toyota Previa, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after the July 18, 2009 fatal car crash on the northbound 605 Freeway near Washington Boulevard in Whittier. Mendoza and two other women, also 26, were all in a stalled Honda Civic after they crashed into a shoulder guardrail, California Highway Patrol officials said.
Valderrama apparently failed to notice the Honda stopped in the traffic lane and crashed into the rear of the Honda. Mendoza, who was initially driving the Civic, had switched seats with the rear passenger after the initial car crash. The other women in the Honda suffered minor injuries. Valderrama suffered moderate injuries.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Diana Mendoza who died tragically in this DUI car accident. Please keep them in your prayers.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) there were three fatalities and 32 injuries involving alcohol-related car accidents in Whittier. In Los Angeles County as a whole, 268 deaths and 5,169 injuries were reported in 2007 as a result of alcohol-related car crashes.
It is not only irresponsible and unethical to drink and drive, but drunk driving also has serious legal and financial consequences. California Vehicle Code section 23152 (a) states: “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.”
A driver whose driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges. California Penal Code section 191.5 (a) states: “Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.”
This fatal Los Angeles County car accident could have been avoided had Valderrama paid more attention to the roadway and had the ability to control her vehicle, which she apparently did not have at the time because she was impaired. Mendoza’s family would be well-advised to consult a reputed Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who has experience pursuing drunk drivers on behalf of accident victims and their families. Drunk drivers should be held criminally and civilly responsible for their actions. I believe that the punishment and severe penalties that are imposed in such cases does deter other drivers from getting behind the wheel while under the influence.