Published on:

Pedestrian Killed in Hit-and-Run Collision


Merlin James Pruitt , a 73-year-old man in a wheelchair, was killed in a hit-and-run collision in Upper Lake the morning of September 9, 2010. The Lake County Record-Bee reports that Pruitt was found dead on Highway 20. Manuel Herrera, 30, has been arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run in connection with this crash. Officials say Pruitt was in his wheelchair heading west on the shoulder of Highway 20 when Herrera veered into the shoulder and fatally injured him. Herrera’s Honda Civic was travelling over 70 mph at the time of the fatal pedestrian accident.

My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Merlin James Pruitt. My thoughts and prayers are with them following this tragic pedestrian accident.

Hit-and-Run Statistics

According to the California Highway Patrol’s traffic accident statistics, there were 17,158 hit-and-run collisions that resulted in fatalities or injuries in California in 2008. A majority of these car accidents involved serious injuries. There were 247 deaths in 2008 involving hit-and-run collisions statewide.

California Laws

California Vehicle Section Code 467(a) defines motorized wheelchair users as pedestrians, with all of the same rights and restrictions as someone walking along a roadway. That means vehicles are required to yield to them, and that the wheelchair users are to stick to sidewalks or shoulders and crosswalks.

In this particular case, Herrera did not stop at the scene of the collision. Officials say, Herrera struck Pruitt, who was in a wheelchair, and then left him injured and possibly dead, on the side of the roadway. California law requires all motorists involved in injury accidents to stop at the scene and remain there until authorities arrive. Drivers are also required to exchange information with other parties and obtain medical aid for the injured victims.

Claim for Compensation

If it is determined that Herrera was at fault for this tragic accident, he could face additional criminal charges in addition to the hit-and-run charge. However, in such cases, at-fault drivers can also be held financially responsible for the injuries or damages they have caused. Where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims 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. An experienced California personal injury lawyer will be able to advise victims and their families about their legal rights and options.

What are some of the biggest challenges and hazards faced by pedestrians in wheelchairs on our roadways?

The Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys is not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our information source is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call us or another reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free consultation. We provide a free, confidential consultation to not at fault persons named in this article. The free consultation offer extends to family members as well.

Contact Information