An early-morning accident in Fresno County has left one person dead and a second injured, according to state troopers. The California Highway Patrol has confirmed the motor vehicle accident that claimed the life of an unidentified female passenger in the single vehicle involved. Police say they have reason to believe alcohol played a role in the accident, but they have not filed charges at this time. 

According to police, around 2 a.m. the morning of Dec. 31, a highway patrol officer noticed a car that was flipped over in the eastbound lane of Golden State Boulevard. It appears the car was headed west when the driver failed to stop in time, causing the car to flip over the divider and land on its roof. The driver, a 28-year-old man, was able to escape the vehicle, but his passenger, an unknown woman, was trapped in the car and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Police are still trying to determine how fast the car was traveling, and whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash. The driver was transported to a local hospital for treatment of unknown injuries. Presumably, his state of mind was evaluated at the hospital in addition to the rest of his condition, which may give police the answer they need. 

If the man is found to have been drunk or high at the time of the motor vehicle accident, he could face jail time and the loss of his license. Even if the crash does not result in criminal charges, the family of the deceased passenger are still entitled under California law to file a wrongful death suit in civil court. These suits are not reliant on criminal convictions or even charges filed, but require evidence of the driver’s negligence if damages are to be awarded to the grieving family.