Staff Sgt. Muhdin ”Mo” Jemal, of the First Battalion, 140th Aviation Assault Helicopter Battalion based in Los Alamitos, was killed in a Fullerton car accident after his motorcycle was struck by two vehicles. According to a news report in the Los Alamitos Patch, the fatal motorcycle accident occurred the night of March 1, 2012 when Jemal was southbound on the 57 Freeway at Imperial Highway in Fullerton.
California Highway Patrol officials say Jemal’s Yamaha R6 was hit by a Dodge Durango and a big-rig and both vehicles left the scene. The driver of the Dodge was tracked down and arrested. He has been identified as Gonzalo Gonzales, 18, of Hacienda Heights. Gonzales has been charged with hit-and-run causing death and driving without a valid driver’s license. Officials are still investigating the incident.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends and members of Muhdin Jemal’s battalion. I’m sure this is a devastating loss for them. The report states Jemal was deployed several times to Iraq. The victim has been described as a positive individual and an inspirational leader who motivated other soldiers in his battalion. Absolutely tragic! Please keep Jemal’s grieving family members in your thoughts and prayers.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to CHP’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were no fatalities, but 34 injuries reported due to Fullerton motorcycle accidents. In Orange County as a whole, motorcycle accidents caused 17 deaths and injured 735 people, during the same year.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, Jemal was struck by several vehicles. Although one of the drivers stopped, at least two including Gonzalez, left the scene. Under California law, motorists involved in accidents are required to remain at the scene, regardless of how or why the accident occurred. In this case, CHP investigators are still piecing together information regarding what had exactly led to the incident and who was at fault.
Leaving the scene of an injury crash is not only an unconscionable act, but it is also illegal. California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a) 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.”
I’m relieved to hear that officials were able to apprehend one of the hit-and-run drivers. If you have any information about the truck driver who left the scene, please visit our web site at www.hitandrunreward.com to offer an anonymous tip and become eligible for a $1,000 reward.
Families of deceased hit-and-run victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will also advise the family about how their own auto insurance policy applies to an incident where the at-fault driver is never identified or in a case where the negligent driver is uninsured or underinsured.