A Buena Park bicycle accident took the life of a young bicycle rider. Heather Elizabeth Azkoul, 31, of Anaheim who had two prior drunk driving convictions, has been found guilty of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and hit-and-run for crashing into and killing bicyclist, 41-year-old Virginia Cordier on January 23, 2007. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, Azkoul had a blood alcohol level of 0.18 — more than twice the legal limit — almost 90 minutes after the Buena Park car-bike accident that killed Cordier.
Azkoul was apparently speeding in her 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass in the southbound lanes of Beach Boulevard near Knott’s Berry Farm when she rear-ended Cordier’s bicycle. Azkoul reportedly had two drunk driving convictions prior to this accident — in 2002 and 2004. She drove away after striking Cordier, but was apprehended by police after a tow truck driver spotted her. Personal injury attorneys defending Azkoul argued that Cordier was riding her bicycle in the darkness without lights or reflectors and that Azkoul did not cause the bike-car accident. But the jury didn’t buy it. Azkoul faces 20 years to life in state prison.
I’m glad that Cordier’s family has received the justice they deserve after waiting for three years in this case. I’m also glad the jury did not believe the defense’s argument that Azkoul, who was speeding and driving under the influence (at more than twice the legal limit), did not cause this fatal Orange County bicycle accident. I hope Azkoul is also held civilly responsible for Cordier’s death.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Reporting System, there were three deaths and 38 injuries reported as a result of alcohol-related traffic accidents in Buena Park. In Orange County, in 2007, 75 fatalities and 1,501 injuries were reported as a result of DUI car accidents.
In this case, Azkoul committed some extremely serious crimes. She continued to drive under the influence after two prior DUI convictions. She struck and killed a person while under the influence. And then, she left the scene of the car-bike accident. In my opinion Azkoul deserved to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This story will hopefully serve as yet another reminder to all of us that there are no winners when it comes to DUI accidents. Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys is currently pursuing at least 50 drunk drivers financially on behalf of injured clients whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of these irresponsible drivers. The drivers we are pursuing will tell you what drunk driving has cost them. They probably realize now that it simply was not worth it.
Please do not drink and drive. They are many other safer alternatives, which will keep you and others out of harm’s way. Remember, this is YOUR choice.