A 21-year-old Huntington Beach woman, said to be one of the best softball pitchers in Orange County at one time, died in a tragic car crash in Costa Mesa over the weekend. Police now believe the single-vehicle crash was caused by what turned out to be a deadly combination of speed, alcohol and street-racing. According to an article in the Daily Pilot, Sara Noel Harris’ boyfriend told Costa Mesa police that the two were racing after drinking Sunday morning in a Newport Beach bar.
The article said Harris was drinking beers while the boyfriend had a few Mai Tais, a rum-based drink. Both then drove in separate cars apparently racing on the streets of Costa Mesa. Several witnesses told police that both the Audis were cutting and weaving in and out of traffic. At some point the boyfriend lost sight of Harris. Police say Harris may have lost control of her car and overturned on a curve and then over-corrected and crashed into a pole.
Harris was wearing her seatbelt, but it didn’t save her life. The Pilot report says she died of multiple traumatic injuries. This kind of a terrible tragedy is a no-win situation for everybody involved.
My heart goes out to the family of the young woman whose members are probably angry, confused and grief-stricken at this time.
In situations like this I usually recommend that the family retain one of the county’s finest personal injury attorneys to investigate the cause of the accident and injuries to see if they have any ideas whether something or someone other than Sara herself was at fault or somehow responsible. The only questions in my mind, assuming the newspaper reports were accurate, are; (1) Did the safety features of Sara’s Audi function properly, (some type of auto defect); (2) Is negligence on the part of Cost Mesa for the design or maintenance of the roadway; and (3) Is there something about the pole that Sara hit like its placement or design that contributed to her injuries.
From a legal standpoint, Sara’s boyfriend may have some legal liability. It is possible that he was engaged in a speed contest or racing with her. If so, he could be found liable.
This is another example that driving after drinking is a bad idea. It is also an example of the dangers of street racing and speeding. Just last week I met with the parents of a young Huntington Beach boy who was killed when a 21-year old, who was apparently racing a friend, struck the boy in a cross walk while on his way to school.
Please be careful. Let Sara’s experience be a lesson to save other lives.