One person is dead and two others were hospitalized for various injuries following a car crash near Big Bear on the morning of March 13, according to state troopers. California Highway Patrol has confirmed the death of a 22-year-old woman who was a passenger in one of the vehicles involved in the motor vehicle accident. A 31-year-old man suffered major injuries, and an 80-year-old man escaped with only minor injuries. Charges have not yet been filed in this case.
According to the accident report, the 31-year-old and his 22-year-old passenger were headed northbound on Highway 18 around 9:45 a.m. when the accident occurred. It appears the driver may have lost control of his vehicle, drifting into oncoming traffic. His vehicle then struck a southbound car driven by the 80-year-old man. The southbound vehicle struck his car on the passenger side.
The 22-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene, and the 31-year-old was rushed to a local hospital with serious injuries. The 80-year-old did not require transportation to a hospital and was treated on the scene by medical personnel. Highway Patrol says they do not believe alcohol or drugs were contributing factors in the accident, but their investigation is still underway as of this report.
Even if intoxication was not the factor in this motor vehicle accident, the 31-year-old driver may still be subject to criminal censure if it can be proved that he was driving in a reckless or negligent manner leading up to the crash. Regardless of whether criminal charges are filed, the family of the deceased passenger, as well as the other driver, are entitled under California state law to file civil suits against him for personal injury and wrongful death. These suits are not reliant on a conviction to succeed in civil court, but evidence of the driver’s culpability in the accident must be presented if the court is to award damages to the injured party and the family of the deceased.