Officials have arrested a man on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and gross vehicular manslaughter in connection with a car accident in Orange, which resulted in the death of 49-year-old Charles Bayes. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal collision occurred the night of April 24, 2012 at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Tustin Street. Orange police say Lloyd Mardel Cotton, Jr., 27, drove his Toyota Highlander into opposing lanes on Lincoln and collided head-on with a Honda Civic in which Bayes was the passenger. The driver of the Civic, Bayes’ mother, sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Cotton was arrested on April 26, 2012 following an investigation and blood test.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to the family members of Charles Bayes, especially his mother who has also been injured in this collision. I wish her the very best for a complete recovery. The Bayes family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were five fatalities and 69 injuries involving DUI collisions in the city of Orange. In Orange County as a whole, alcohol-related crashes claimed 62 lives and injured 1,340 people, during the same year.
California DUI Laws
Based on the news article, it appears that the driver of the Highlander, Cotton, was under the influence of alcohol when he veered into opposing lanes of traffic and struck the Honda sedan head-on. According to 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.”
A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges, as Cotton does in this case. 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.”
Protecting Victims’ Rights
In such cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, the family of a deceased car accident victim can file a wrongful death claim seeking damages for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income and benefits, loss of love and companionship, and other related damages. Victims’ families would be well advised to contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer, who will stay on top of the official investigation and makes sure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.