World War II veteran Robert Mathiasen, 87, was killed and his wife, 83-year-old Lorraine Mathiasen, was critically injured in a Riverside County car accident after a vehicle hit them as they were crossing a roadway. According to a news report in The Desert Sun, the fatal car accident occurred the night of February 24, 2012. Police say the couple was crossing the street outside a crosswalk on North Palm Canyon Drive, between Via Escuela and Vista Chino, when a northbound Ford Taurus struck them. The driver of the Ford remained at the scene and has not been charged. The investigation is ongoing.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Robert Mathiasen. The Mathiasens were apparently visiting Palm Springs for the 100th Bomb Group reunion at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Tragic! My thoughts and prayers also go out to his wife, Lorraine Mathiasen, who remains in critical condition after the crash. I wish her the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.
Pedestrian Accident Statistics
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were two fatalities and 21 injuries involving pedestrian accidents in Palm Springs. In Riverside County as a whole, pedestrian accidents claimed 39 lives and injured 370 people, during the same year.
Laws Relating to Pedestrians
Based on this news report, the Mathiasens were not walking in a marked crosswalk at the time of the accident. 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.”
If the driver is determined to have been at fault, then, he or she can be held liable for Mathiasen’s wrongful death and his wife’s serious injuries. Injured victims or families of deceased car accident victims would be well advised to contact an experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer, who will be able to establish whether a dangerous condition on the roadway caused or contributed to the incident. If that was the case, the city or governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway can also be held liable. 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.