Harlee Ferris, 24 months, was killed and her father Robert Ferris, 32, was critically injured after a vehicle struck them both the evening of Nov. 4. According to a KABC news report, the dad and daughter were crossing Santa Gertrudes Avenue when a sedan traveling north on Santa Gertrudes hit them. Ferris was holding Harlee’s hand and leading her across the street at the time of the crash.
The driver, identified as 39-year-old William Hurlbut IV of Whittier, stopped at the scene and cooperated with investigators. The incident occurred about a quarter-mile south of Leffingwell Road, in a location where there is no marked crosswalk. Ferris and his daughter were both transported by ambulance to an area trauma center. Harlee died of her injuries, a day before her second birthday. Her father remains in critical condition.
The collision occurred during daylight hours and is being investigated by California Highway Patrol in Santa Fe Springs. CHP officials say alcohol or drugs were not a factor. Anyone with information is asked to contact CHP at 562-868-0503. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral and medical expenses.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family members of Harlee Ferris for their tragic loss. We also wish Robert Ferris the very best for a quick and full recovery. Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that Ferris and his daughter were not walking in a marked crosswalk. It is not clear if they were walking in an unmarked crosswalk or at an intersection. California Vehicle Code Section 21954 states: “Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.” The same section also states: “The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”
In this case, if the driver is determined to have been negligent, he can be held liable for the damages and losses caused. A knowledgeable Los Angeles pedestrian accident attorney will also be able to determine if a dangerous or defective roadway condition caused or contributed to the incident. If that was the case, the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway can also be held liable. Under California Government Code 911.2, any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental entity must be filed within 180 days of the incident.