Sara Cisneros, 48, was killed in a San Bernardino car accident on Aug. 2, 2009, after the car she was driving was struck by a suspected drunk driver in Redlands, California. According to a news report in the Redlands Daily Facts, the fatal car crash occurred when 26-year-old Ryan Christopher Wheatley, who was traveling north on Orange Street in a Ford F-150 pickup truck, drifted off the roadway and struck an irrigation pipe. He then swerved back onto the road and into oncoming traffic colliding with a 1992 Nissan Sentra driven by Sara Cisneros. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Wheatley suffered minor injuries while a passenger in his truck was uninjured.
My heart goes out to the family and friends of Sara Cisneros for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. I offer my deepest condolences to them. They will certainly be in my prayers. I also hope the suspected drunk driver, Wheatley, is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Drunk Driving Statistics
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2007 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were three fatalities and 69 injuries involving alcohol-related car accidents in Redlands. In San Bernardino County, 105 deaths and 1,174 injuries were reported in 2007 as a result of alcohol-related car accidents.
California law prohibits drivers from operating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”
Wheatley most likely faces vehicular manslaughter charges as well. California Penal Code section 191.5 (a) states: “Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is the unlawful killing of a human being without malice aforethought, in the driving of a vehicle, where the driving was in violation of Section 23140, 23152, or 23153 of the Vehicle Code, and the killing was either the proximate result of the commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to a felony, and with gross negligence, or the proximate result of the commission of a lawful act that might produce death, in an unlawful manner, and with gross negligence.”
Car Accident Liability Issues
This fatal and tragic California car accident could have been avoided had Wheatley not been impaired and had the ability to control his vehicle. Cisneros’ family would be well-advised to consult a reputed California personal injury lawyer who has experience and a successful track record pursuing drunk drivers on behalf of car accident victims and their families. Drunk drivers involved in these types of fatal car collisions will often be held criminally and civilly responsible for their actions. Such cases serve to remind us that it’s never worth it at any time, to get behind the wheel drunk. Please drive safely.