Jose “Joe” Malacara, 29, was fatally injured in a car accident in San Diego County after being struck by a sheriff’s patrol car. According to a news report in U-T San Diego, the fatal pedestrian accident occurred early morning on September 18, 2012. Officials say Malacara, a cook at the Penny Lane Pub and Grill, was crossing San Marcos Boulevard when he was hit by a patrol car driven by Traffic Enforcement Deputy Frank Stalzer.
The collision occurred in a dark section of the street. Stalzer was not responding to an emergency at the time, but he was trying to catch up to a suspected drunk driver, officials say. Malacara died at the scene. The patrol car’s lights or sirens were not on, but Stalzer did have his vehicle’s headlights on.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Jose Malacara for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. He is described by co-workers at the pub as the “nicest, calmest guy” who was into health and fitness. Malacara was apparently the oldest of six siblings. He attended college on the side. Tragic! Please keep Malacara’s grieving family members in your thoughts and prayers.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were no fatalities, but eight injuries involving pedestrian accidents in San Marcos. In San Diego County as a whole, 55 people died and 888 were injured due to pedestrian collisions during the same year.
What Caused This Crash?
Based on this news account, it appears that the accident occurred when Malcara was attempting to cross the roadway. The article quotes the pub’s owner saying that a camera from a neighboring restaurant showed Stalzer accelerating with his headlights on just before hitting Malacara.
It is unclear as to whether speed played a part in this crash. California Vehicle Code Section 21954 states: “Every pedestrian upon a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway so near as to constitute an immediate hazard.” The same section also states: “The provisions of this section shall not relieve the driver of a vehicle from the duty to exercise due care for the safety of any pedestrian upon a roadway.”
In such cases families of deceased victims would be well advised to contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer, who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected. In cases where a government employee is at fault, the victim’s family can file a claim against that employee and his or her employer seeking compensation. Under California Government Code Section 911.2, any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed within 180 days of the incident.