Here is a news article that talks about the concerns of a family that lost a beloved member in a Los Angeles car accident. According to this news report in the Whittier Daily News, Kimberly Richter, the mother of 15-year-old Andre Emilio Leon, wants answers from the California Highway Patrol about the April 21, 2009 head-on collision with a wrong-way driver that allegedly killed her son. Richter basically wants to know why the pickup’s driver, 19-year-old Derik Armstrong, was not tested for alcohol or drugs that night and why he has not been arrested although he has prior traffic violations.
California Car Accident Investigation Ongoing
CHP officials have said that they are still completing their investigation and once that’s done they will submit the case to the District Attorney’s office that will then decide whether to file charges. Richter believes Armstrong deliberately drove on the wrong side of Leffingwell Road, which is a divided road. She believes Armstrong should be facing vehicular manslaughter charges. She questions why her son, who was a passenger, and his older sister were tested for alcohol when Armstrong, who was driving on the wrong side of the road, was let go without any alcohol or drug testing. CHP officials responded by saying that an officer determined Armstrong was not under the influence the night of the crash, but the officer did not administer a blood alcohol test.
CHP officers also said Armstrong was traveling at 45 mph that night. But Richter doesn’t buy that. She says her son had a crushed jaw and cheek and the bones protruded through his left leg. He died of blunt force trauma. She also says the Leons’ Nissan’s roof was torn off and one of the car doors landed about 30 feet away from the point of impact. “You’re going to get that at 45 mph?” she asks. Andre died of complications from traumatic brain injury. Richter said she chose to stop the feedings and medications because she wanted her son to die with dignity instead of having him as a vegetable all his life. For her son’s 16th birthday on June 17, she bought a metal gate to go around his grave.
Personal Injury Victim’s Family Seeks Justice
This is a mother looking for justice. My heart goes out to Kimberly Richter not only for her tragic and heartbreaking loss, but also because she has not gotten that sense of closure that she is desperately seeking now. As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, I believe that a lot of the questions Richter is asking are absolutely valid. When you’re dealing with a wrong way driver, the investigator should have tested him not only for alcohol, but also for drugs. It’s usually hard to tell when a person is driving under the influence of recreational or prescription drugs because there is no odor or obvious symptoms as in the case of alcohol use. It’s tough to understand why Armstrong was let go without a blood or urine test. The fact that he left the scene in a hurry without getting medical attention also raises suspicions.
We could give Armstrong the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was not intoxicated or otherwise impaired. But even if he was deliberately driving on the wrong side of the road, just for thrills, he needs to be held criminally and civilly liable for the accident, injuries and heartache caused to the Leon family. More than anything else, a mother has lost her child. That’s an irreparable loss no amount of compensation can cover.