A collision occurring on the afternoon of July 14 in unincorporated Sonoma County caused the death of a 56-year-old man from Santa Rosa, California. As a result, county prosecutors filed murder charges against a 28-year-old Santa Rosa woman whose car hit the man's vehicle. When a wrongful death occurs as a result of another person's negligence with their vehicle, sometimes criminal charges are filed, but it is highly unusual for them to include murder.
The female motorist was, according to police, chasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle driven by her ex-boyfriend. As her 2001 Acura proceeded on Hall Road close to Mancini Road, it hit a Lexus and then continued on to strike a 1969 Triumph Spitfire. This caused the Triumph to roll over from the force of the collision, setting it on fire.
Emergency responders, including members of the California Highway Patrol, rushed to provide assistance, but were able to do nothing for the severely injured male motorist, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers speculated that the collision might have been intentionally caused as part of a domestic violence dispute. The California Highway Patrol officers turned the investigation of the crash over to the county sheriff.
The woman was pursuing her ex-boyfriend because they had just had an argument, according to investigators. Prosecutors indicated that they believed the woman was acting with malice at the time of the accident, although the actual target of her anger would have been her ex-boyfriend, rather than the motorist who died. In light of that, some might question whether murder charges were actually justified under the circumstances. But whether or not she's ultimately convicted, it doesn't change the fact that a man who had no involvement in the former couple's dispute lost his life as a result of it.
While somewhat unusual, this case has much in common with more typical fatal accidents. Family members and other loved ones of those who die in crashes understandably want answers as to how the accident occurred, and whether the person who caused the crash was acting in a negligent or malicious manner. In cases where such negligence can be proved, a victim's survivors may be eligible for compensation of medical, funeral and burial costs, as well as other damages.
Source: Rohnert Park Patch, "Murder Charged Filed in Fatal Crash on Saturday," July 18, 2012
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