Asia Gonzales, 22, and another man who officials say was her boyfriend, were killed in a car accident in Inglewood near the Los Angeles International Airport when a speeding driver slammed into their car during a police pursuit. According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the collision occurred at the intersection of Glasgow Avenue and Olive Street the night of April 28.
California Highway Patrol officials were pursuing a pickup truck that had just run a red light as the driver was getting onto the 405 Freeway, a CHP spokesperson said. Officers followed the truck onto the freeway in an attempt to pull it over. However, the driver refused and a chase ensued. The truck eventually got off the freeway and sped along surface streets before it T-boned the victims’ sedan. Surveillance video captured the moment of the impact.
An eyewitness said several people ran out and tried to help the victims get out, but couldn’t open the doors and that the car was mangled shut. Emergency personnel had to cut the car in half to get the people out. The male driver of the car was taken to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
The car’s passenger, Gonzales, was pronounced dead at the scene. Security video from a nearby business captured the moment when the man tried to flee the scene. The suspect, who investigators say was under the influence of drugs, was eventually apprehended. He was identified as 42-year-old Gustavo Ruelas Jr. He is expected to face multiple charges. CHP officials said the pursuit lasted no more than two minutes.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the victims for their terrible loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver had an extensive criminal history and that officials also found drugs in his truck. It is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a). Anyone who causes a fatal accident when they are driving while impaired could face vehicular manslaughter charges. A driver who has prior DUI convictions could face murder charges.
In addition to facing criminal charges, impaired drivers can also be held financially responsible for the injuries and damages caused. In cases where innocent bystanders are killed during police pursuits, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, the agency that initiated the pursuit could also be held liable. Families of deceased victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.