An 18-year-old man killed during a December 19, 2008 fatal Orange County street racing accident has been identified as Jose Merino Pacheco of Mission Viejo. Pacheco had three other passengers in his car and was racing another car driven by a 17-year-old. The fatal accident occurred at Olympiad Road near Jeronimo Road when Pacheco lost control of the Volkswagen Jetta that he was driving. The car flipped several times and then slammed into a light pole. Our source for this blog was this news report in The Orange County Register.
It is extremely fortunate that Pacheco’s three passengers did not suffer life threatening injuries. One person suffered moderate injuries while two others escaped uninjured. The other driver was in a 2008 Scion TC. That teenager’s name was not released because he is a minor.
We see the deadly effects of street racing in California almost on a weekly basis. The victims of these accidents are young people – teenagers or those in their early 20s.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were reports of 135 fatal car accidents that involved street racing in 2001, a number that had almost doubled since 2000. The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that there were more than 800 citations issued for illegal street racing in 2001. I would not be surprised if that number has significantly increased as of 2008. Nationwide, statistics also show that 49 people are injured for every 1,000 people who participate in illegal street racing.
This is certainly another example of what speeding, reckless driving and racing on a public street can do. Here is another young life lost. Several other lives were also put in grave danger and it’s a miracle no one else was catastrophically injured or killed in this crash. Los Angeles County has taken several steps to curtail and deter street racers in the last year. What’s Orange County waiting for? Do we need to see more innocent bystanders seriously injured or killed in order to crack down on illegal street racing?
It’s about time Orange County officials increase penalties for those found to be racing or speeding on a public street. They need to step up enforcement, issue citations and make arrests so that racing on a public street becomes “not worth it” for these perpetrators. The district attorney should also get more aggressive with criminally charging street racers. If you have been seriously injured in an Orange County street racing accident, please contact my office to find out what your rights or options are. My staff or I will be more than happy to provide you with information.