A Fontana woman died and two children sustained critical injuries Tuesday night when her van was hit by a Hilton Hotel van, whose driver, police say, ran a red light. According to a news article in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the 53-year-old woman, Sally Alvarado, was driving a 2002 Toyota Sienna with two boys ages 4 and 5, who are now reportedly in the hospital in critical condition.
Officials told the newspaper based on preliminary investigations that the driver of the Hilton Hotel van was at fault and that he failed to stop for the red light. The article said Alvarado was making a right turn from the off-ramp of the 10 Freeway in Ontario when the Hilton Ford van struck the driver’s side. The vehicle reportedly belongs to the Hilton Ontario Airport hotel. The van driver was taken to a hospital and was treated for minor injuries, the Bulletin reported. No charges had been filed yet.
Investigators are still looking at the evidence. They don’t know if the van driver ran the light because he was distracted or talking on the cell phone. Whatever the reason, a tragedy has occurred. One woman is dead and two little boys are fighting for their lives.
Red light running is one of the most common and yet one of the most dangerous traffic violations. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/rlr.html), a nationwide study of fatal crashes at traffic signals in 1999 and 2000 estimated that 20 percent of the drivers failed to obey the signals. In 2005, more than 800 people were killed and about 165,000 were injured in crashes that involved red light running. The victims who die in these crashes mostly turn out to be pedestrians and occupants in other vehicles who are hit by the red light runners.
Depending on the degree of carelessness or negligence, the driver of the Hilton van may face a vehicular manslaughter charge. But that is usually charged only after an elaborate investigation as it should be. Early this week I reported how the California Highway Patrol was seeking manslaughter charges against a truck driver that caused a traffic fatality and it seemed he was a lost less negligent than the driver of this Hilton van.
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