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DUI Collision Proves Fatal for Elderly Driver


James Austin Withers, 84, was killed in a Mendocino County car accident, which police say, involved a suspected DUI driver. According to a news report in The Press Democrat, the fatal DUI collision occurred on Highway 1 near Fort Bragg the evening of January 15, 2011. Withers was fatally injured when his Volkswagen Beetle was struck head on by a Toyota 4Runner driven by 32-year-old Mary Kotila. Officials arrested Kotila on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs and drug possession, and gross vehicular manslaughter.

My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of James Austin Withers. My thoughts and prayers are with them following this tragic car accident.

DUI Statistics

According to California Highway Patrol’s 2008 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), 15 people were killed and 70 were injured due to DUI collisions in the unincorporated areas of Mendocino County. During that same year, there were 16 fatalities and 83 injuries reported involving alcohol-related car accidents in Mendocino County.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Based on this news report, police have determined that the driver of the Toyota was driving under the influence of drugs. A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges, as Kotila 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.” Drivers who operate under the influence may also be held civilly liable for the accidents and damages they cause.

Liability Issues

In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, the family of a deceased car accident victim can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for medical and funeral expenses, lost future income, loss of love and companionship, and other related damages. Victims’ families would be well-advised to contact a reputed California personal injury lawyer, who has a successful track record of financially pursuing drunk drivers and holding them accountable. For more information about the dangers of drunk driving, please visit the Mother Against Drunk Driving web site at

Lost a family member in a California car accident? Want to know your rights? Want to know what your case is worth? Want compensation? Want justice? Want to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to another family?

Call your best friends in the legal industry after a Mendocino County DUI car accident. Call 800-259-6373. The call is free. The advice may be priceless.

Call a Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys California wrongful death lawyer for a free professional evaluation of your rights by attorneys who have been representing families of deceased accident victims since 1978. You will experience award winning representation and outstanding personal service by a compassionate and understanding law firm in a comfortable environment.

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