Jessica Lujan, 26, of Anaheim, was killed in a Lake Forest car crash, which officials say, was caused by a suspected DUI driver. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal crash occurred early morning on May 5, 2016. Officials say a 27-year-old man crashed a 1964 Dodge Dart into a tree on eastbound Lake Forest Drive near Overlake. Deputies arrived at the scene and found both the man and the women trapped in the wreckage. They had to be extricated using the Jaws of Life and were transported to an area trauma center.
The driver was hospitalized with head and facial injuries and is said to be in serious condition. The woman died from her injuries on what officials said was her 26th birthday. The car did not have airbags, which contributed to the seriousness of this incident, officials said.
The driver has not yet been identified, but officials said he faces DUI and vehicular manslaughter charges. He could possibly face homicide charges because he has been previously convicted of more than one DUI, the Register reports. He is expected to survive. The investigation is ongoing.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family members and friends of Jessica Lujan for their tragic loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2013 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), one fatality and 18 injuries were reported in Lake Forest as a result of DUI collisions. In Orange County as a whole, 60 deaths and 1,235 injuries were reported due to alcohol-related collisions during the same year.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that this is not the driver’s first time operating under the influence. In fact, the article states that he has had more than one prior DUI conviction. It is illegal under California law to operate a motor vehicle when you are under the influence of alcohol and/or 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). Those who have had prior DUI convictions could face homicide charges if they cause a fatal crash while under the influence.
In such cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims can file what is known as a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love and companionship. Victims’ families would also be well advised to contact an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney who has successfully represented DUI victims.