Francisco Deluna, 49, was killed in a car accident in Lake Elsinore, which officials say, was caused by a driver who was under the influence. According to a City News Service report, the fatal crash occurred the night of Jan. 8 near the Railroad Canyon/Diamond Road exit. California Highway Patrol officials said Deluna, who was driving south in a 2020 Nissan Versa, slowed down because of a traffic break ahead. That’s when he was rear-ended by a 2015 GMC Sierra pickup truck.
Arrest and Ongoing Investigation
The force of the collision caused the Nissan to slam into the center divider. Deluna was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the GMC drove away from the scene, crossing into the right shoulder in an attempt to flee. However, a CHP officer spotted the vehicle with front-end damage and pulled the driver over near Railroad Canyon Road. The pickup’s driver, identified as Nick Clinton Lewis, 55, of Temecula, was arrested on suspicion of DUI and felony hit-and-run. The investigation is ongoing.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of Francisco Deluna for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the pickup truck, Lewis, was not only under the influence, but failed to notice traffic stopping ahead and crashed into the victim’s vehicle from behind. After what turned out to be a fatal crash, Lewis deliberately fled the scene of the crash.
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 under California Penal Code section 191.5 (a). Also, under California Vehicle Code Section 20001 (a), it is illegal to leave the scene of an injury or fatal crash.
In such cases, in addition to facing criminal penalties, DUI drivers can also be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses they cause. Families of deceased victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for damages including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love, care and companionship. An experienced Riverside DUI victims’ lawyer will be able to help victims’ families seek justice and fair compensation for their tremendous losses.