Two men, identified as Jose Anthony Hernandez and Everardo Zuniga, both 22, were killed in a Buena Park car accident, which officials say involved a suspected drunk driver. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the single vehicle DUI collision occurred during the early morning hours of February 10, 2012. Ryan Hernandez, 22, was driving west on La Mirada Boulevard near Alondra Boulevard when he struck a raised median and lost control. The vehicle continued west across the intersection and hit a wall and a concrete light pole. Anthony Hernandez and Zuniga, who were passengers in the back seat, suffered fatal injuries. The front seat passenger was uninjured. Ryan Hernandez has been arrested on suspicion of DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter. The investigation is ongoing.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Jose Anthony Hernandez and Everardo Zuniga for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Please keep these grieving families in your thoughts and prayers.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were no fatalities, but 34 injuries involving alcohol-related crashes in Buena Park. In Orange County as a whole, 62 people died and 1,340 were injured as a result of DUI auto collisions, during the same year.
California DUI Laws
Based on this news report, it appears that the group of men was celebrating a birthday that night and the driver, Ryan Hernandez, was under the influence of alcohol. It is illegal under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a), to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges.
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.”
Compensation for Victims’ Families
In such cases, the at-fault driver, in addition to facing criminal charges, can also be held civilly liable for the victims’ wrongful death. Victims’ families would be well advised to contact an experienced OC personal injury attorneys, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected. 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.