Two construction workers – James Sanderson, 35, and Elias Juarez, 50 – were killed in an Orange car accident after a man suspected of driving under the influence struck them. According to a news report in the Orange County Register, Sanderson and Juarez were working with a crew and a pickup truck was stopped in the bike lane on Santiago Canyon Road just east of Jamboree Road the night of June 1. Police say a vehicle going west on Santiago Canyon hit the truck fatally injuring the two workers. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Orange police arrested the driver, Hipolito Paez-Vazquez, on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter. The workers were reportedly employees of a private company contracted to work on a construction project on Jamboree Road. Paez-Vazquez stopped at the scene and cooperated with officials. The investigation is ongoing.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of James Sanderson and Elias Juarez for their tragic loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
DUI Statistics and Laws
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2014 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were two fatalities and 85 injuries reported as a result of DUI collisions in the city of Orange. In Orange County as a whole, 66 people died and 1,294 were injured due to alcohol-related crashes during the same year.
Based on California Vehicle Code Section 23154 (a), it is illegal to operate while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The same section also prohibits motorists from driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher. 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).
Fault and Liability
In such cases, drivers who operate under the influence, in addition to facing criminal charges, can also be held civilly liable for the injuries, damages and losses caused. Families of deceased victims may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love and companionship. If the victims were on the job at the time, their families may be able to seek workers’ compensation death benefits as well. An experienced Orange County personal injury lawyer will be able to advise families regarding their legal rights and options.