Placer County Sheriff’s search and rescue teams located the all-terrain vehicle and the bodies of its two missing riders this past Tuesday just before midnight. The teams discovered the bodies of Vitaliy Kolyadich, 25, of Carmichael and Svetlana N. Koval, 23, of Redlands, which had fallen in an embankment seemingly after an accident involving their ATV, according to a Auburn Journal Web article.
Dena Erwin, a spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff’s Department is quoted as saying that the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department learnt about the two ATV riders when their families reported them missing on Monday.
My sympathies and condolences are with the families of the two young accident victims. The sad outcome of this search must have crushed their hopes and one can only imagine the grief and pain they’re going through.
While an accident investigation is being conducted by the CHP, one of the interesting points here is that Erwin also reportedly states the victims appeared to have gone off the road and crashed. I am suspicious of how two ATV riders could “crash” and both die on the spot.
If either of these young people were members of my family or community I would want to know “to a reasonable certainty” what caused their death. And as a family member I’d hire an experienced personal injury attorney to investigate the scene independent of the authorities. I would contact the investigating police agency to see what they have found out. I’d make sure that the ATV was kept for further inspection and possibly held as evidence.
From the information in the news report, it is likely either a driver error or a mechanical failure caused the ATV accident. If it were a driver error, the deceased passenger’s family would have a claim against the driver’s estate, which is probably covered by insurance. Assuming the driver was insured, the family of the deceased passenger would then have a tough choice.
Do they go after the insurance money or do they let the insurance company keep the money that they are legally obligated to pay. If it turns out to be mechanical failure then the ATV manufacturer can be held responsible. Given that the accident took place in a remote location it becomes crucial to have a quality and independent investigation done – one that will provide the answers for all concerned.