Osmara Mesa, 5, was killed and her sister and mother, remained in critical condition after a Santa Ana car accident that was caused by a suspected DUI driver who left the scene of the crash. According to a news article in The Orange County Register, the fatal accident occurred at the intersection of 17th and Spurgeon streets, the morning of June 23, 2012. Police say the mother and her two children were walking in a marked crosswalk when 33-year-old Jessica Louise Cowan drove her Lexus through a red light and struck the pedestrians. Cowan tried to get away, but was stopped by a driver who witnessed the crash. Cowan is facing several charges including felony hit-and-run, felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
Tragic DUI Collision
Osmara died at the scene. Her mother, 45, suffered severe head trauma and is in critical condition after this Santa Ana pedestrian accident. Her 6-year-old sister also suffered head injuries, but is expected to survive. Cowan was driving 60 mph or more at the time as she headed west on 17th Street. Officials say they would not have Cowan in custody now had a female driver not cut off and trapped Cowan at Main and 17th streets.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members of Osmara Mesa who are grieving the loss of this little girl and are caring for two other critically injured family members. This family will be in my thoughts and prayers. I wish the two severely injured victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery. I commend the driver who saw the hit-and-run car accident and courageously stopped the driver who tried to get away. This person is truly a hero!
There were six fatalities and 143 fatalities involving DUI collisions in Santa Ana in 2009, according to California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). In Orange County as a whole, 62 people died and 1,340 were injured due to alcohol- and drug-related crashes, during the same year.
Violation of Laws
Based on the news account, the driver, Cowan, committed a series of violations here. Officials say she was under the influence, speeding and ran a red light just before mowing down the pedestrians, who were walking in a marked crosswalk and had the right of way. The motorist then attempted to flee the scene, leaving two young girls and their mother critically injured and lying on the roadway. Unconscionable!
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a), it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. California Vehicle Code Section 22350 (Basic Speed Law) states: “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic and on surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
Running a red light is prohibited under California Vehicle Code Section 21453 (a). Leaving the scene of a crash or hit-and-run is also illegal under California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a). In addition, Cowan failed to yield the right of way to pedestrians walking in a marked crosswalk (California Vehicle Code Section 21950).
Protecting Victims’ Rights
In such cases where negligence or wrongdoing is apparent, the family of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim seeking damages including medical and funeral expenses. Injured victims can seek compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation and other related damages. An experienced Santa Ana personal injury lawyer will help injured victims and their families better understand their legal rights and hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions. For more information about the dangers of driving under the influence, please visit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) web site at www.madd.org.