Last month, three people died in what is alleged to be a drag race turned deadly collision in Commerce on the 5 Freeway. A 35-year-old Whittier man faces three murder counts for his role in the deaths of a university student, homicide detective’s son and a driver for UPS, police sources claim.
California Highway Patrol reports indicate the driver was southbound on the 5 in a Dodge Challenger, racing a Dodge Charger shortly after midnight. Around Triggs Street, he lost control and hit the UPS truck. It crossed the median into oncoming traffic, peeling the top off a Nissan sedan before slamming into a Ford Explorer. The UPS truck then caught fire.
Two passengers in the Nissan suffered serious injuries requiring hospitalization, and officials stated two others received minor injuries. Following the crash, the driver was charged with suspicion of manslaughter. Charges were later upgraded to murder for the triple deaths.
The deceased passengers in the Nissan, teenagers from Santa Clarita, were on their way back from Disneyland when they were killed. One victim, 18, was the son of a homicide lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. Police were not able to identify the driver of the Charger involved in the drag race.
Holding drivers criminally liable for their reckless and wanton acts may be a deterrent, but it will not provide injured parties and survivors of the deceased with any financial compensation. That must be adjudicated in the civil court system.
The first step accident victims and survivors must take is to file a claim for their damages and losses. These cases often settle and are not dependent upon the outcome of any criminal charges.