Warren Smale, 43, a salesman at a CarMax store in Ontario, was killed in a car crash after a man who took a Corvette for a test drive crashed it into a tree. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the driver, 28-year-old Alex Demetro was under the influence of prescription drugs. He has been charged with felony DUI, vehicular manslaughter and driving with a suspended license.
The crash occurred the afternoon of February 23, 2015 on Mercedes Lane near Concours Street in Ontario. Witnesses told police that the driver lost control of the Corvette and rammed into a tree. The Corvette was speeding at 70 mph, witnesses said. Smale was taken to an area hospital in critical condition. He died from his injuries. The company issued a statement saying he is the first CarMax salesperson to die during a test drive.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family members of Warren Smale for their devastating loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2013 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were six fatalities and 89 injuries reported as a result of DUI collisions in the city of Ontario. In San Bernardino County as a whole, 86 people died and 897 were injured due to DUI crashes during the same year.
California DUI Laws
Based on this news report, it appears that Demetro, the customer, was under the influence of prescription drugs when he sped in the Corvette accompanied by Smale and crashed the vehicle into a tree. According to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” This includes prescription drugs.
A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges under California Penal Code section 191.5 (a), as Demetro does in this case.
Wrongful Death Claim
In this particular case, Smale’s family can seek workers’ compensation death benefits from his employer, CarMax, since he was killed on the job. In addition, they may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income and loss of love and companionship. An experienced San Bernardino personal injury lawyer will be able to advise victims’ families regarding their legal rights and options.