NBC News’ Lindsey Hood, reported on a major auto accident involving two vehicles filled with students and coaches from Southern California, that resulted in a fatal head-on collision on the evening of August 9, 2010. The accident occurred just outside of Bishop, on US 395, when a SUV with 5 former students from Cathedral Catholic High School in Carmel Valley, crossed over into oncoming traffic and hit a van. The van was carrying 12 students and a coach from California Baptist University in Riverside. Reports indicate that both vehicles were coming and going from a high-altitude camp for cross-country runners in Mammoth Lakes. Wendy Rice, 35, who was driving the van and two passengers in the SUV, Amanda Post and Natalie Nield, were fatally injured according to sources from Cathedral High School. Two passengers in the SUV Drew Delis and Derik Thomas of Encinitas, suffered major injuries, as well as 12 people in the van, and were all transported to local hospitals.
Our condolences go out the families and friends of the deceased and a speedy recovery to those injured.
Applicable California Law
California Vehicle Code 2651 prohibits any vehicle from crossing into oncoming traffic when a road is divided by double yellow lines. The driver and registered owner of the SUV would be liable for the wrongful death of the three woman, and the injuries to the passengers of both vehicles (see my prior San Diego EMT Fatally Injured In Multi Vehicle Auto Accident for the California Wrongful Death Law). Due to the number of fatalities and injuries, it is essential to ascertain if the responsible parties had sufficient insurance coverage to adequately compensate those injured and the heirs of those who were killed . Reports do not identify the owner of the van, and if there was any underinsured motorist coverage, as it would be the primary coverage for its occupants. If both vehicles carried inadequate insurance limits, hopefully all of the injured and other claimants have the benefit of their own coverage to adequately compensate them for their injuries or losses.
US 395 is mostly rural and can be treacherous when people do not exercise extreme caution. There are long stretches where there is only a single lane in each direction, poor lighting, and attempting to pass slower vehicles can be dangerous. Drivers often have to cross over into 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.