Thomas Botello, 11, died days after he suffered critical injuries in a Ventura County car accident which officials say was caused by his aunt, Page Germain, an Orange County woman, who was driving under the influence of prescription medication. According to an article in the Ventura County Star, the accident occurred the afternoon of July 4, 2009 at the intersection of Las Posas and Laguna roads near Camarillo. Germain stopped at a stop sign at Las Posas and then continued into the intersection where cross traffic does not have a stop sign. She did not yield right-of-way to a pickup truck driven by 23-year-old Edgar Espinoza who crashed into Germain’s sport utility vehicle.
Thomas was sitting in the SUV’s right rear seat and was buckled up. He was taken to an area hospital where he died a four days later. A 12-year-old boy in Espinoza’s truck also suffered injuries, but they were not life-threatening. Espinoza and another passenger were not injured. Germain of Huntington Beach was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of prescription medication.
My heart goes out to the family of Thomas Botello for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. This accident must be especially hard on them because it was caused by another family member. I offer my deepest condolences to Thomas’ parents. Please keep them in your prayers. I’m also relieved that Espinoza and the others in the pickup truck were not seriously injured.
Officials are still investigating whether or not Germain was under the influence of prescription medication. However, it seems to me that she committed a violation by failing to yield the right-of-way at the stop sign. California Vehicle Code 21802 (a) states: “The driver of any vehicle approaching a stop sign at the entrance to, or within, an intersection shall stop as required by Section 22450. The driver shall then yield the right-of-way to any vehicles which have approached from another highway, or which are approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to those vehicles until he or she can proceed with reasonable safety.” Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs–recreational or prescription–is also illegal under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a).
Thomas’ family may or may not choose to pursue Germain civilly. But she could still face criminal charges if she is determined to have been driving under the influence or if there was any type of negligence or recklessness involved here. Victims of DUI accidents have the right to pursue the individual who caused their injuries. Usually, victims may seek compensation to cover medical expenses, loss of wages and other damages. In cases where a DUI accident results in death, the family of the deceased victim could file a wrongful death seeking compensation for funeral costs, loss of earnings, loss of love and companionship and other damages. In some cases that our personal injury lawyers have handled, the drunk driver was running an errand or on-the-job at the time of the accident. In such cases, the employer or the person the driver was running an errand for, could also be held liable for injuries, damages and loss.