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California Car Accident Kills Four

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Four people–Jose Menjivar, Wilfredo Lopez, Angel Nunez and Nelson Nunez–were killed in a fatal California car accident after their 1990 Honda got wedged under the trailer of a big rig that had run a stop sign. According to a report on KMPH News, 23-year-old Concepcion Lopez was the only survivor of the car-truck accident in Fresno County, California, the morning of August 3, 2009, which killed four of her family members.

The driver of the truck was identified as 35-year-old Hernesto Escalante, an employee of Panella Trucking. Eyewitnesses say Escalante who was hauling tomatoes in the truck, ran a stop sign and caused the crash. The impact of the collision apparently sheared the roof of the Honda. California Highway Patrol officials say Escalante then unhitched his trailer and drove away. He was later arrested in Modesto, California.

My heart goes out to young Concepcion Lopez and the families and friends of these deceased victims, for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. They have suffered a tremendous blow in a single instant. I offer them my deepest condolences. They will certainly be in my prayers.

Hit-and-run Car Accident

I trust the driver, Hernesto Escalante, will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, for leaving these people wedged under his tractor-trailer. Apparently, Escalante pulled over the side of the road, assessed the scene, unhitched the trailer, got back on his truck and drove away calmly. Despicable! He is facing four counts of vehicular manslaughter and felony hit-and-run, as he should. Both he and his employer, Panella Trucking, must be held criminally and civilly liable for the fatal injuries caused to Menjivar, Lopez, Angel Nunez and Nelson Nunez. These families deserve justice!

Hit-and-run is not just inhumane, but it is also against the law. California Vehicle Code section 20001 states: “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.”

Trucking Company Could Be Held Liable

It’s interesting to note that one of the drivers interviewed for this story says truck drivers in the Fresno area are under tremendous pressure to work long hours and meet unrealistic deadline because it’s currently the tomato harvesting season in Fresno County. Police say people driving in the area should be additionally cautious because of the constant flow of these tomato trucks making deliveries.

The families of the deceased victims would be well-advised to retain the services of an experienced California truck accident attorney who will help hold the truck driver and his employer responsible for this horrific accident and the damages caused.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim

In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims are able to file a wrongful death claim, which seeks compensation for funeral expenses, loss of wages, loss of love and companionship and other damages. The best California personal injury law firms will not charge a fee for an initial consultation. If you have been involved in any car accident, please remember that it is best not to talk to any representatives for the other party including their attorneys or insurance adjusters. The first step is to contact a skilled California personal injury lawyer. Please do not sign papers or enter into any type of agreement until you have talked to an experienced injury lawyer.

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  • Anonymous

    the driver did not just unhook his trailer at the scene he drove the mile past the accident to the tomato field and dropped his trailer , granted he should of stayed at the scene of the accident and contacted authorities, he was probly a little freaked out at what just happened i work for panella trucking and its a great company to work for

  • unknown

    I also worked for that same company, and they do not care much for the drivers rest periods. There dispatcher ruben, will tell you that you better make your loads or go look for another job. If you are over in hours, he tells you that there are more log books in the table, you can start a new one.

  • unknown

    I know for a fact that the company leases the trailers from ralph panella. I dont know much about the law, but is it legal for them to lease equipment using a name of a person that has been dead for about 15 or more years. Maybe someone should investigate there method of operation. It would not be the first time they do something illegal to avoid paying to much in taxes. They have had a couple lawsuits involving unfair labor practices. They mostly like to settle out of court, and then get rid of the people who try to defend there rights. How can a dead person be sued.

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