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Man Killed in San Clemente in Front of Ralphs Supermarket


Paul Michelena, 46, was killed in a San Clemente car accident after a driver who was turning into a parking lot struck him. The Orange County Register reports that Michelena and his daughter were walking on a sidewalk in front of a Ralphs supermarket at South El Camino Real and Avenida Barcelona the afternoon of October 11, 2013 when they were struck by a Ford F150 pickup truck that was turning into the store’s parking lot. Police say the driver said he did not see the pedestrians on the sidewalk. Michelena was pronounced dead at the scene and the girl suffered non-life-threatening injuries. No arrests or citations were reported. The investigation is ongoing.

I offer my deepest condolences to Michelena’s family and friends. My thoughts and prayers are also with his daughter who was injured in this collision.

Pedestrian Crash Statistics

There were no fatalities, but 18 injuries reported in the city of San Clemente as a result of pedestrian collisions, according to California Highway Patrol’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). Also, countywide, 32 people died and 770 were injured due to pedestrian accidents in 2010.

Right-of-Way Issues

Based on this news report, it appears that the driver did not see the pedestrians on the sidewalk and failed to yield the right-of-way to them. Drivers turning in or pulling out of public or private driveways must yield right-of-way to pedestrians and oncoming vehicles. According to California Vehicle Code Section 21804 (a): “The driver of any vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from any public or private property, or from an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all traffic.” Vehicles entering traffic “shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that traffic until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.”

Fault and Liability

I trust officials are looking into whether the driver was impaired, distracted or inattentive at the time. If the driver in this case is determined to have been negligent, he could be held liable for the victim’s wrongful death. In cases where negligence is involved, families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income and loss of love and companionship. Injured victims and families of deceased victims in such cases would be well advised to contact an experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer who will analyze all aspects of the incident and ensure that the negligent parties are held liable.

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