Renowned Southern California horse trainer, 72-year-old Arthur Lerille, suffered severe head injuries in a Covina auto accident on November 8, 2008 after his car was hit by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s patrol vehicle. According to this article in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, California Highway Patrol officials and sheriff’s investigators say they are not sure if Deputy Brian Harper had his lights and sirens on at the time of the collision.
Investigators say Harper was driving west on Arrow Highway at 40 to 50 mph and Lerille was northbound on Sunflower Avenue in his 1989 Cadillac Seville driving at 40 mph. According to eyewitness accounts, Harper’s patrol car drove past a red light and into the path of Lerille’s Cadillac. Both men were seriously injured in this 11/8/08 intersection crash. Lerille suffered a serious injury to his arm that required surgery and also suffered head injuries. His wife, Cindy Lerille, says her husband has significant memory loss since the accident and has trouble recognizing her. Harper suffered broken bones around his spinal column and is said to be recovering.
I wish both Arthur Lerille and Deputy Brian Harper the best for a speedy and complete recovery. According to Cindy Lerille, her husband was taking his usual work route to Santa Anita Park.
This unfortunate accident is an example of how even a professional such as Deputy Brian Harper can make mistakes. It is illegal for a civilian vehicle to run a red light, according to California Vehicle Code. However, emergency vehicles such as ambulances, police and fire vehicles, are exempt from such rules of the road. They need that exemption because they may be responding to life-threatening emergencies.
However, emergency vehicles must follow certain protocols when responding to such an emergency. They are required to have their lights and sirens on so that other motorists on the roadway know to yield to these emergency vehicles. Without lights or sirens, a police squad car is like any other vehicle and other motorists cannot be expected to stop and yield.
Arthur and Cindy Lerille would be well-advised to retain the services of a reputed Southern California auto accident attorney who has an excellent track record of dealing with government agencies. If it is determined that Deputy Harper did not follow proper procedure while responding to the emergency call, he as well as his employer, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, could be held liable for Lerille’s serious injuries.
Lerille’s family would be well-advised not to discuss anything with anyone until they are represented. That includes signing documents as well. Auto accidents involving peace officers can be tricky sometimes especially if the agency involved in the accident is “investigating themselves.”