Gracie and Edward Contreras, 55, were killed in a West Covina car accident and their 13-year-old son was injured, after a fleeing carjacking suspect crashed into their car Oct. 12. According to a KTLA news report, the couple was on their way to their home with Gracie Contreras’s son when a man fleeing the police crashed into their vehicle. Both the adults were ejected from the vehicle. Edward Contreras was pronounced dead at the scene while his wife died a short time later at s hospital.
Tragic Fatal Collision
Her son, identified as Jacob by family members, remains hospitalized and must undergo several surgeries, the report said. He was left with serious injuries including a punctured lung, a broken leg and facial injuries. Family members said his biological father is supporting him through this difficult time. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family with funeral costs and to help with the teen’s recovery.
The driver of the other car was arrested. The incident occurred when West Covina police spotted the carjacked Jeep near Durness and Sandy Hook streets and attempted to pull it over. The driver fled and eventually collided with the vehicle in which the family was traveling.
We offer our deepest condolences to the Contreras family. Our hearts especially go out to the 13-year-old boy who has been seriously injured in the crash and has lost his mother and stepfather. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Police Pursuits and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver, in this case, was attempted to pursue police officers. California law provides immunity to police departments that have adopted a “vehicle pursuit policy.”
California Vehicle Code Section 17004 states: “A public agency employing peace officers that adopts and promulgates a written policy on, and provides regular and periodic training on an annual basis for, vehicular pursuits … is immune from liability for civil damages for personal injury to or death of any person or damage to property resulting from the accident of a vehicle being operated by an actual or suspected violator of the law who is being, has been, or believes he or she is being or has been, pursued in a motor vehicle by a peace officer employed by the public entity.”
However, there are cases where police departments may be held accountable for these types of incidents. Injured victims and families of deceased victims may be able to seek compensation for their losses. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will be able to advise them regarding their legal rights and options.