Oxnard police have arrested a man on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter in connection with a January 27, 2009 fatal traffic collision, which killed 44-year-old Sherry Bernadette Anthony. According to this news report in the Ventura County Star, police arrested Isaac Chavez based on information provided by community members along with video evidence that was obtained.
Chavez was arrested a day after the fatal accident. Anthony was apparently on her way to work. She was making a left turn from northbound Rice Avenue onto Latigo Avenue when a pickup truck heading south on Rice broadsided Anthony’s van. She was pronounced dead on the scene. Chavez was taken to a local hospital with a broken collarbone and other injuries. Eyewitnesses also told police that Chavez had run a red light before crashing into Anthony’s van. Chavez now faces felony vehicular manslaughter charges.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Sherry Bernadette Anthony for their heartbreaking loss. Here was a woman who was on her way to work early morning and she gets killed because of another driver’s negligence and reckless auto driving. Tragic! I offer my deepest sympathies to everyone who knew and loved Anthony.
This news article doesn’t say whether Chavez was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, going by the eyewitness reports and the video police obtained, Chavez was driving recklessly as he ran a red light and broadsided Anthony’s van.
According to California Penal Code, vehicular manslaughter can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Vehicular manslaughter with “gross negligence” can only be charged as a felony. California law defines “gross negligence” as driving without caution and without concern for the safety of others. It may not be based merely on driving under the influence, but also other factors such as speeding, racing, running traffic lights and so on.
In my opinion, Chavez should be held criminally and civilly responsible for his actions. I trust police are also looking into whether Chavez was driving under the influence. If he was, he is looking at felony DUI charges as well.
The family of Sherry Bernadette Anthony would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced Southern California auto accident attorney, who will help examine all the facts of the case and hold the negligent parties/wrongdoers responsible for their actions. A skilled personal injury lawyer will also be able to look into other factors that may have caused the accident such as malfunctioning traffic lights or a dangerous intersection.