UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER Karen Kucher reported that two men suspected of drunk driving, 34-year-old Francis Rolan Samson Bueno and Emmanuel Zapien 23 were arrested following an accident that occurred on March 11, 2010 on southbound Interstate 805 near Market Street. Two hit-and-run drivers were also being sought for leaving the scene of the accident.
CHP officer Art Athans said the incident began about 1:50 a.m. when Bueno lost control of his 2008 Saturn and hit the center wall. Bueno’s vehicle was blocking the southbound fast lane when it came to rest and was then struck by Zapien’s 1998 Nissan Sentra when he was unable to stop in time. Firefighters had to help extract Zapien and his passenger because they were trapped in their vehicle.
A third accident occurred when a good Samaritan, 33-year-old Sean Franklen ran across the freeway to try to divert traffic from the accident site. While putting out flares to keep cars away from the fast lane he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. The hit-and-run vehicle is believed to be a white 2001 BMW, either a 330i or a 325.
A fourth vehicle collision occurred when Eduardo Michael Diaz, who was driving a 1996 Honda Civic hit another vehicle in backed up traffic that subsequently fled the scene. In all, five motorists suffered major injuries and were hospitalized.
Applicable California Law
In addition to civil liability for the accident if Bueno and Zapien were driving under the influence of alcohol they would face criminal charges as well. Zapien could pursue a civil claim against Bueno however, given the fact that he was driving impaired, would diminish the value of his claim to the extent he is found to be comparatively negligent. If Zapien’s passenger knew that he was intoxicated at the time of the collision could constitute comparative negligence as well.
As to Franklen if the hit-and run driver’s identity is not ascertained he would have to peruse an uninsured motorist claim with his own insurance company. It is not clear if his conduct contributed to his own injuries which could effect his claim. In addition if his conduct contributed to the fourth accident he could be partially liable. Although he was acting as a good Samaritan the California Supreme Court has held that only when rendering emergency medical aid is a good Samaritan immune from liability.
Since Diaz hit the vehicle in front of him it would seem that he caused his own injuries. Without additional facts it is not clear why the vehicle he hit fled the scene or if they contributed to that accident.