NBC SAN DIEGO reporter, Lindsey Hood, reported that two vehicles, both filled with students and coaches from Southern California, were involved in a fatal head-on collision on the evening of August 9, 2010. The accident occurred on US 395, just outside of Bishop, when a SUV with 5 former students from Cathedral Catholic High School in Carmel Valley, crossed over into oncoming traffic and hit a van which carried 12 students and a coach from California Baptist University in Riverside. Coincidentally both vehicles were coming and going from a high-altitude camp for cross-country runners in Mammoth. The driver of the van, 35-year-old Wendy Rice and two passengers in the SUV, Amanda Post and Natalie Nield, were killed. SUV passengers Drew Delis and Derik Thomas of Encinitas, as well as 12 people in the van suffered major injuries, and were transported to local hospitals.
Our deepest sympathy goes out the families and friends of the deceased.
Applicable California Law
California Vehicle Code 2651 prohibits crossing into oncoming traffic when a road is divided by double yellow lines. The news accounts do not identify the driver of the SUV, who would be responsible for the wrongful death of the three woman, and the injuries to the passengers of both vehicles (see my prior Blog Posts for the law on wrongful death). Because of the number of fatalities and injured, it will be crucial to ascertain if the responsible parties had sufficient insurance coverage. It is not clear who owns the van, and if it carried any underinsured motorist coverage, as it would be the primary coverage for its occupants. Hopefully all involved have their own coverage to adequately compensate them for their injuries or losses.
Having traveled that stretch of US 395 on many occasions, I know how treacherous it can be. In many places there is only a single lane in each direction, little or no lighting, and limited passing in designated areas. Drivers often cross onto oncoming traffic to pass slower vehicles, causing auto accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents. Talking to an experienced personal injury attorney before taking any action is critical.