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SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA – After an investigation by the California Department of Justice the owner of Manse on Marsh along with a former employee have been arrested in connection with the wrongful death of one of the independent living facility’s residents.

The Attorney General’s Office of the State of California filed charges on July 19, 2017 against Christopher Skiff, 54, and Gary Potts, 63, for involuntary manslaughter and dependent adult and elderly abuse. Investigators maintain that these men knowingly and willfully put the life of Mauricio Cardenas, 65, in danger, which led to his 2014 death, as alleged in the complaint.

Manse on Marshe Manslaughter
Manse on Marshe Independent Living Facility

“The inquiry was brought about because Cardenas’ death was so odd,” according to a report given in 2015 by Skiff to CalCoastNews. “Law enforcement and our own District Attorney absolved us both of any criminal wrong doing.”

On December 21, 2014, Cardenas was trying to cross Los Osos Valley Rd. in Los Osos when a 2010 Dodge Challenger hit and ultimately killed him. Ricardo Serafin, 26, was driving the Challenger at the time. Serafin was determined not to be at fault by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) because the area where Cardenas was trying to cross was in complete darkness.

The Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud & Elder Abuse got a letter on December 30, 2014 saying, “Cardenas should have never been admitted to the MMALF independent living facility since he had been diagnosed with dementia and MMALF does not have a dementia waiver and therefore is not allowed to house residents with dementia.”

The letter goes on to allege that, as a result, Cardenas never received the proper oversight and care that his condition required.

“The consensus is that if Cardenas had been placed in an appropriate living environment with the proper security precautions his safety could have been looked after and he would not have lost his life,” according to the letter.

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According to CalCoastNews, on March 24, 2015, investigators with California’s Medicare Fraud & Elder Abuse Division raided Manse on March seizing computers and files. Kristin Ford, DOJ Press Secretary, said that a search warrant had been issued, which justified the raid.  

“We will confirm that on March 24, 2015 we served a legal search warrant on the facilities of Manse on March, located in San Luis Obispo,” Ford said in replying to a 2015 email inquiry. “Because this involves an active criminal investigation, we cannot provide any additional information or make any official comments at the present time.”

Manse on March is an independent assisted living community providing seniors with some level of care along with certain amenities. There are 87 apartments situated on the property in three separate buildings.

One resident’s family member reported that once investigators started searching through the facility, Skiff met with residents and staff in a group setting and advised them to consult with an attorney before they spoke to any of the investigators.

Potts was booked into the Smith County Jail in Texas where he remains held without bail. Skiff was booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail and released the same day.

The most vulnerable adults among us are often our elderly. Often elderly adults become victims of abuse in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. An estimated 1 to 2 million elderly adults are injured, exploited or mistreated every year. Problems of malnutrition, bedsores, neglect, infections, falls, fractures, dehydration, failure to medicate & monitor, financial abuse, as well as physical, verbal, and sexual abuse exists in many nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley, we are committed to helping the elderly and their families through these difficult situations. Every person deserves to be safe from harm by those who care for them. If your loved one has suffered abuse in a nursing home, assisted living facility or from in-home care provider, the experienced elder abuse attorneys at O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley can help you obtain justice for your loved one. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

(Source: Cal Coast News )

Published on behalf of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley LLP

OAKLAND, CA – A surveillance camera picked up the horrific sight of a car slamming into three innocent children in Oakland crossing the street using the crosswalk. Neighborhood residents are demanding changes.

The footage clearly shows the collision sending two teenaged girls into the air, while the little boy that was crossing with them is pulled under the car and dragged.

The accident occurred on Wednesday, July 5, 2017 at about 9:30 p.m. in the intersection of Brookdale and Fruitvale Avenues in Oakland.

Residents in the neighborhood report similar accidents happening in the past. They are calling for the city to install blinking lights in the crosswalk.

It is painful to watch the video of the accident. It shows the car being driven by a young person hitting the children as they crossed the street in the crosswalk, causing the girls to fly into the air and the toddler being pinned under the car.

The accident occurred right outside Mark Legaspi’s Filipino restaurant, so his surveillance cameras videotaped the whole tragic event. 

3 children hit in oakland crosswalk
Video screen capture before collision


“Everyone was scrambling to help,” relayed Legaspi. “The baby was being dragged along under the car. Let’s save that baby!”

It was a miracle that all three kids survived this horrific accident.

One of the teenaged girls and her little brother, who were injured in the accident, are cousins of the other girl that was hit by the car. 

They were walking home the night of the accident. They were careful, looking both ways before entering the crosswalk and just assumed the car would come to a stop and let them cross.

Just before being hit, the girls could be seen bracing for impact.

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Legaspi reported that this is the third time pedestrians have been hit in the crosswalk in the last three years. This is not counting the number of car crashes that have occurred in the same intersection.

“Surprisingly, no one has been killed,” Legaspi said. “However, I’ve witnessed three pets getting run over and killed right here.”

He blames distracted drivers speeding through the interaction for the accidents. Legaspi did contact Noel Gallo, the City Councilman for this area, requesting something be done to make the crosswalk easier for drivers to see.

“They probably have to send people out to study the road because we have had so many accidents here,” said Gallo. “But this time I think it’s a no-brainer that something has to be done.”

Gallo said he heard that these three victims have already been released from the hospital and are recovering at home.

Witnesses described the driver as stopping at the scene of the accident and being remorseful. They said he carried a passport, so was obviously from another country, and admitted that he had not been issued a California driver’s license.

It has not yet been reported whether the driver did have a valid driver’s license or if the police placed him under arrest. 

At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley we have 50 years of litigation and trial experience. We have the expertise and a proven track record of success. If you or a loved one has been the victim of motor vehicle negligence and would like to speak with a Bay Area auto accident attorney, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

BRENTWOOD, CA – A woman, 72 and a 1-year-old were among 9 people transported to area hospitals when a stolen car going the wrong way plowed head-on into a van on Highway 4 in Brentwood, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said that the crash was called in just after 8 p.m. Saturday night. The accident occurred on Highway 4 right at Sand Creek Rd. in Brentwood.

Earlier that day, Concord police got a report that a gold 1994 Honda Accord was stolen. This was the car that was going the wrong way, speeding east on the westbound lanes of Hwy. 4, the CHP said in a statement issued on Sunday.   

The wrong-way car sped past a number of other vehicles before it crashed into a 2015 Honda Odyssey van driving westbound at Sand Creek Rd. carrying seven people, the CHP said.

Brentwood Wrong Way Crash
Photo NBC News

CHP officials said that 9 people were taken to a local hospital. All occupants of the van were from San Francisco and transported to John Muir Medical Center, which is in Walnut Creek.

A 61-year-old woman suffered major injuries, but has since been stabilized. A 30-year-old driver was moderately injured. Four passengers sustained minor injuries: two girls, ages 10 and 2 and two women, ages 72 and 34. A baby just 1 year old appeared to have no injuries, but was transported to the hospital anyway as a precaution.

The Accord was carrying a 22-year-old passenger who suffered major injuries and was transported to Dublin’s Eden Hospital and is now in stable condition, according to the CHP.

The 24-year-old wrong-way driver was identified as Rafael Duarte of Oakley. He was treated at John Muir Medical Center for minor injuries before being arrested for alleged felony drunk driving, operating a vehicle without a license, possession of a stolen car, driving with no insurance, and going the wrong way on a highway, causing injury. He was booked at Martinez Detention Facility upon discharge from the hospital.

Each year in the United States, wrong-way driver crashes kill 300 to 400 people on average. This represents approximately 1% of the total annual number of traffic related fatalities. It may be a tiny percentage overall, but since crashes involving wrong-way drivers are usually head-on or high-speed sideswipes coming from the opposite direction, they tend to be a lot more serious than other types of collisions.

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Wrong Way collisions are inevitable when someone enters a freeway or controlled-access highway on an exit ramp going the wrong way, or when drivers make maneuvers that cause them to drive the wrong way or in the wrong direction. Collisions involving wrong-way drivers are definitely a problem on our highways. They may be infrequent, but the consequences for the people involved in these crashes are far more serious than those resulting from other types of traffic accidents.

If you or a family member has been in a traffic accident involving motor vehicle negligence and want to speak to a reputable Bay Area attorney who specializes in auto accidents, please contact O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley Attorneys at Law. We will answer all your questions, explain your legal rights and how best to protect them.

SAN PABLO, CA – A motorcyclist was killed Monday morning in a hit-and-run crash involving a big-rig travelling westbound on Interstate 80 in San Pablo. This was tragically the second fatal collision on the very same stretch of highway that day. The Contra Costa County Coroner was able to identify the victim.

Nicholas Brown, 35, from Fairfield, died in the collision, which was called in at 6:22 a.m. The accident happened on westbound Interstate 80 near El Portal Drive.

San Pablo Motorcycle Hit and Run Death
Photo Credit KTVU


CHP Officer Matt Hamer said the big-rig truck, which was described as being yellow with a white trailer in back, hit Brown while making an unsafe lane change. Brown then struck another car, and this caused him to be ejected off his motorcycle, throwing him onto the highway. Brown was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Witnesses observed the big-rig driver pulling over and remaining for about five minutes before driving off, Hamer said.

A big-rig matching the description was later pulled over by officers, but that truck is not thought to be the big-rig involved in the crash. Hamer said that the search is still on for the suspected vehicle.

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According to CHP officers, all lanes of the highway were reopened by 7:55 a.m.

Earlier that morning, in a separate crash on the same stretch of Interstate 80, Lindche Tran, 25 from Richmond was killed.

At approximately 4:05 a.m., Tran was driving along in a Honda Accord when suddenly it spun out of control, hitting the center median. The vehicle came to a stop facing the opposite direction and with lights out, Hamer said.

As Tran exited her car, a Dodge Charger was approaching and the driver could not avoid crashing into the Honda and Tran. She was pronounced deceased at the scene, said Hamer.

Woman killed in San Pablo I-80 Crash
Photo Credit: KGO


There were two occupants in the Dodge and both were transported to a local hospital suffering from minor injuries, Hamer said.

The highway remained shut down until about 6:10 a.m., which was less than 15 minutes prior to the collision that took Brown’s life.

Anyone who has information on either traffic accident is encouraged to phone the Oakland CHP Office at (510) 450-3821.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by another, you may be eligible to seek compensation. That compensation will include present and future wages, medical expenses, and funeral costs, but it will also include loss of love, guidance and companionship, moral support, and financial support. Protect your rights, contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP.

(Source: KGO)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

Suspect in collision released from jail just one day before the crash; mom and baby remain hospitalized.

The names of the two boys that were killed over the weekend in the Highway 4 crash have been identified. On Monday the authorities released their names as their three-month-old baby brother remained in the hospital fighting for his life.

Lorenzo Reyes, 10, and Vincent Rothenberg 5, both San Pablo residents, were riding in a Dodge Durango when they were ejected when an Infiniti FX flew off the Solano Way exit going westbound onto the adjacent on-ramp slamming into the Durango, according to California Highway Patrol authorities.  

The crash occurred a little before 11 p.m. Friday night. The Coroner’s office of Contra Costa County released the names on Monday. The boy’s 35-year-old mother was still being treated on Monday at Walnut Creek’s John Muir Medical Center for neck injuries. Their 3-month-old baby brother remained Monday at Oakland’s UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in critical condition.

2 boys killed highway 4
Photo Credit NBC News

Lemuel Wilson, 35, from Oakland, is the one suspected of being behind the wheel of the Infiniti FX. He is now in custody, having been arrested for: suspicion of 2 counts of vehicular manslaughter, suspicion of 2 counts of hit-and-run that caused great bodily injury, as well as suspicion of 1 count of driving with a revoked or suspended license that caused great bodily injury.

Sgt. Ray Kelly, spokesman for Alameda County Sheriff’s Office on Monday evening confirmed that last week Wilson had been in jail facing charges involving misdemeanor battery, making criminal threats, and possession of ammunition while at Gale/Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton.

Wilson’s case was heard before a Fremont judge last Wednesday. The judge lowered his bail, which was $100,000, down to $10,000. The following day, Wilson posted his lowered bail and was released from custody. That was one day before the Highway 4 crash, according to Kelly.

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A GoFundMe account has been set up by one of the mother’s friends to cover funeral costs for her two boys. The goal is to raise $20,000.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by another, you may be eligible to seek a remedy and payment. Protect your rights, contact an experienced Wrongful Death Attorney at O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP. We are well known and respected throughout the legal community and among our clients. From our offices in Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County, San Francisco and Sacramento, we serve clients throughout Northern California. Our experience and expertise are available to you.

(Source: East Bay Times)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

SACRAMENTO, CA

In the US, Wrong Way Driving accidents result in an average of 300 to 400 deaths per year, speaking to around 1 percent of the aggregate number traffic fatalities that happen yearly. While this is a small overall percentage, because wrong way driving crashes include head-on or opposite direction sideswipe crashes at high speeds, they have a tendency to be more extreme than different sorts of accidents.

Wrong-way driving is a result of drivers making wrong way entries onto freeways or other controlled-access highways, or making mainline moves that bring about driving the wrong way/direction. Impacts from wrong-way drivers is a persistent issue on US roadways. Because the results of wrong-way driving accidents are a great deal more serious than different sorts of crashes, government traffic safety agencies consistently audit various access control measures. Typical measures include the design of on/exit ramp approaches and signage. The goal is to find potential changes or additions that will reduce wrong-way entries.

Furthermore, they look to investigate the potential advantages of detecting wrong way driving incidents, and providing quick warnings to the wrong way driver, to relevant authorities, and to other drivers in the immediate area. In Sacramento and San Diego, they are testing just such a system, with positive results.

It was immediately obvious that a car was heading the wrong way as it entered an off-ramp of a highway in West Sacramento. It occurred on the 5th and Bridge St. exit ramp of Highway 50, which is across from the home of Egor Mikhayloeskiy. He’s witnessed too many near-accidents caused by wrong-way drivers. Mikhayloeskiy reported, “I see drivers doing this several times a day.”

Wrong Way Driving

Many visitors to the Bay Area use the exit on 5th and Bridge St. on their way to Raley Field to see the Rivercats, the Giants’ AAA team, play.  But that particular off-ramp is very often mistaken for an on-ramp. “I always see cars from all directions honking at drivers heading onto the off-ramp, trying to warn them not to go there,” said Mikhayloeskiy. That’s why the California Highway Patrol has partnered with Caltrans in a trial program to prevent accidents caused by wrong-way drivers.

The program is being tried out in Sacramento and areas of San Diego to start with. The 5th and Bridge St. off-ramp in Sacramento is among 17 spots along Highway 50 that are included in the project, said Gilbert Mohtes-Chan, spokesperson for Caltrans. “These countermeasures are our latest attempt to aggressively combat the serious problem posed by wrong-way driving,” he said. There are huge “Do not enter” signs posted on the off-ramp, along with bright red reflectors warning drivers that they are going the wrong way. “We are trying to get drivers to self-correct so they turn their car around on the off-ramp and drive back off,” said Mike Sheets, a CHP Officer.

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Additional countermeasures have been taken on six off-ramps by equipping them with a specialized radar system run on solar power. When the system’s sensors detect a vehicle driving the wrong way, it sets off a series of warnings: the signs start flashing LED lights, video cameras start operating and the vehicle’s license plates are captured, plus a loud alarm goes off on highway patrol cell phones and computers at Rancho Cordova’s Traffic Management Center.

“Every second counts when you have a wrong-way driver,” Officer Sheets explained. “We need to get there as fast as possible so we can stop this driver.” The project, which is slated to run for two years, just began in January. Since then it’s detected 2 wrong-way drivers. One suffered a minor crash. The driver was subsequently arrested for DUI, according to Sheets.  

The second driver heeded the warnings at 5th and Bridge St., and turned the car around before entering the highway going the wrong way. So, the system worked as planned. “It seems to be working well so far,” Officer Sheets exclaimed.

The wrong-way driver that we saw stopped after spotting the warning signs. A police officer driving by helped guide the car off the ramp. “Drivers suddenly realize now that they’re going the wrong way and turn around on their own,” Mikhayloeskiy said.

wrong way driving

“As a result of these safety measures, I’m not seeing wrong-way drivers entering the highway on the off-ramp like I used to,” Mikhayloeskiy said. 

O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP is a law firm serving the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our attorneys represent clients in a wide array of serious personal injury claims. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to another's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Our attorneys possess the specialized knowledge needed to win maximum compensation in complex cases. 

(Source: CBS)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

The Law Offices of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley is happy to announce our selection for the "People Love Us on Yelp" award for 2017. Yelp is the top business review website, and businesses with the highest ratings win this award. We thank our clients for taking the time to share their positive experiences on Yelp and other review platforms. 

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Derick Almena, leaseholder of the Ghost Ship warehouse, and Max Harris, a tenant in the building, have been arrested for involuntary manslaughter. They each face 36 counts in the December inferno at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, according to Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County’s District Attorney.

The fire started during an electronic concert and dance party, killing dozens of people who were unable to escape the two-story blaze as the dilapidated warehouse burned. One of the two exits to escape the fire was blocked, said authorities.

On Monday, O’Malley reported that these two individuals “knowingly created a dangerous fire trap with very few escape routes. They then packed that area with partygoers and are now faced with the gravity of what they caused.”

If convicted of all 36 counts, Almena and Harris would each be facing up to 39 years in state prison. Both men were arrested early Monday.

Teresa Drenick, Assistant District Attorney, did not offer any information on Harris, but according to probable cause document, he lived at the Ghost Ship and was the creative director who collected rent and the acting intermediary between the warehouse owners and Almena.

Just after the fire, Almena apologized to the families of the victims while strenuously defending himself, claiming he never would have intentionally put his tenants in any danger.

“I’m here to say just one thing: I am profoundly sorry,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show.

On Monday, Almena’s lawyers said: “We will vigorously defend our client in court. These charges represent a serious miscarriage of justice. We have every confidence that this attempt to scapegoat our client will ultimately fail.”

CNN was unable to reach a lawyer for Harris.

O’Malley claims that these men were reckless in setting up a death trap. She said they housed up to 25 tenants in the warehouse and deceived the building owners and officials about this. Almena and Harris permitted large amounts of flammable materials to be stored floor-to-ceiling in the building, she said.

“We continue to grieve the loss of these 36 vibrant young women and men who should be here with us now,” she said.

People filed complaints weeks before the fire

Darin Ranelletti, Interim Director of Planning & Building for city of Oakland, told CNN in 2016 that the Ghost Ship had not had an inspection in the last 30 years.

“That means no one applied for a permit for any work on the building in the last 3 decades. We have no violations on record for work on the interior of the main building submitted for that street address,” he went on to say.

Three weeks prior to the fire, the latest complaints were filed with the city.

Ghost Ship Fire Arrests Oakland

“Inspectors went out to the address in November to follow-up on a complaint about an illegal structure and blight on an adjacent lot,” Ranelletti said. “That lot does not have the same address as the Ghost Ship.”

The warehouse, along with the lot next door, had become a dumping ground for oil containers, old cars, trash and pests, according to various complaints.

According to records, a lot of the complaints were about the lot, mentioning a “ton of trash piling up” as well as “an unlawful interior structure” at the Ghost Ship next door.

According to the probable cause document, “Almena allowed tenants to utilize unconventional building materials, things he collected, in creating their individual living spaces. These materials were often recycled dried out wood items like fence boards, window frames, shingles, wooden sculptures and furniture, organs, pianos, tapestries, rugs, RV trailers and other discarded items.”

Authorities said the precise cause of the fire might remain undetermined due to the severity of damage done to the contents of the building.

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Lawsuits maintain dangers were long known

After the fire, the families of Michela Gregory and Griffin Madden, who perished in the blaze, filed lawsuits, naming the owner of the building and certain employees of various county and city departments as defendants. The lawsuits claim these people knew that the Ghost Ship posed serious dangers long before it went up in flames.

Among those who knew or should have known about the hazards are members of Oakland’s Fire Department. They actually “held and attended a musical event” at the warehouse before the fatal fire, according to the lawsuits. The lawsuits also say that the closest fire station is just a block away.

Aside from legal claims against Alameda County and the city of Oakland, the Gregorys and Maddens target the owner of the building, Chor Nar Siu Ng, along with landlords Almena and Micah Allison.

Other defendants named in the lawsuits are a California music label, a promoter, a musician from Madison, Wisconsin along with two landlords of properties nearby who “provided services and utilities to the Ghost Ship, which included electricity and a restroom that invitees and patrons could use on their premises during musical and other entertainment events.”

Drenick was mum as to whether there would be any more criminal charges filed. “At this point, the 36 involuntary manslaughter charges filed are the 36 we stand by.” She went on to say that the investigation by their office has been completed.

wrongful death is a death caused by a negligent, careless, intentional or reckless act of another person or corporation. All states guarantee the right to compensation for families and children of those who are killed in a wrongful death. if you have lost a loved one in an accident caused by another, you may be eligible to seek a remedy and payment. Protect your rights, contact an experienced Wrongful Death Attorney. When you call the law offices of O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley, you will be talking with an attorney who has spoken with hundreds of people in your similar circumstance. You will be treated with the respect and sympathy you need during your time of heartbreak and anguish.

(Source: KTLA)

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ALAMEDA, CA – Two people were killed and six others injured when a truck and minivan collided Monday morning in downtown Alameda, according to authorities.

Alameda police and the County Coroner’s Bureau both confirmed that two deaths occurred as a result of Monday’s accident.

Tuesday the coroner’s office said the fatalities were Simon Sotelo, who most recently lived in Union City and Briana Ortega who was from Hayward, both 17 years old. 

The other passengers in the pickup with Sotelo and Ortega are all in their teens to early 20s and were still in the hospital as of Tuesday morning, according to police.

The collision took place at Lincoln Avenue and Park Street and police said on Facebook that speeding might have been a contributing factor in the accident reported around 8:00 a.m.

The truck had seven occupants, of which two were killed and five others seriously injured, according to the Facebook post. Law enforcement has not disclosed where Sotelo and Ortega were sitting in the truck.

Ortega died at the scene, while Sotelo later succumbed to his injuries at Oakland’s Highland Hospital, according to the post.

Carol Ziogas lives in the neighborhood where the crash occurred and she, her daughter and son-in-law immediately rushed over after hearing the vehicles collide. They observed first responders putting a tarp over the female passenger, while a male passenger was having a neck brace put on.

Fatal car crash alameda, ca

Ziogas said, “There were shoes scattered all over the street, along with papers and other kinds of debris,” adding, “The Jaws of Life had to be used to remove the roof in order to get the last passenger out.” She went on to say, “He was in a daze just sitting there.”

The truck’s five other occupants were all transported to local hospitals in critical condition.

The truck ended up in Alameda Bicycle’s parking lot on Webb Avenue and Park after the collision.

Ole’s Waffle Shop is nearby and that’s where Matt Clay was dining when he heard the crash.

“All I could see was someone on the ground,” he said. “It was a horrific crash.”

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According to the Facebook post, the female who occupied the minivan was transported to an area hospital. Her injuries were not considered life threatening.

Ziogas explained that this was not the only fatal crash occurring within one block of their home. She said that the locals in town are understandably worried about drivers’ exceeding the speed limit, which happens all the time on Park Street.

According to the Traffic Incident Mapping System run by UC Berkeley, May 24, 2015 was when the last fatal accident happened at this intersection. That’s when a vehicle hit a pedestrian walking across the street inside the crosswalk. The system indicates that four fatal collisions have occurred in Alameda, just in the last four years.

Area streets were closed to traffic for several hours on Monday. At 6:30 p.m. they reopened Park Street.

(Source: East Bay Times)

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

Neuroscientists are making tremendous progress in their quest to restore movement in patients with spinal cord injuries using brain implants.

French neuroscientist Grégoire Courtine was observing a macaque monkey aggressively hunching towards the end of the treadmill it was on. His team of researchers had slit halfway through the monkey’s spinal cord, so its right leg was paralyzed. Courting was now trying to get the animal to walk. He and his team had placed a recording device under its skull, which touched the motor cortex. They then stitched a pad of electrodes around the monkey’s spinal cord, just below the cut. A wireless connection was able to join the recording device with the electrodes.

The outcome: a system that picked up the animal’s intention to move its leg and went on to transmit this message via bursts of electrical impulses to its spine. Before long, the monkey began to move his right leg. He extended and flexed and then did it again. The monkey hobbled forward. “The monkey had a thought, and all of a sudden, he started walking,” recalls a jubilant Courtine, a neuroscience professor at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.
Recently, lab animals and a number of people have shown that they could control a robotic arm or computer cursor with their thoughts due to a brain implant being wired up to a machine. Researchers are now beginning to take that very important next step in reversing paralysis. By wirelessly connecting brain-reading technology to electrical stimulators placed on the body, they are creating a “neural bypass system,” according to Courtine. This allows people’s thoughts to move their limbs again. 

Wireless neurocommunication device
Wireless neurocommunication device on a skull.

A quadriplegic man in middle age who cannot move anything except his head and one shoulder allowed doctors at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio to implant two tiny recording devices in his brain, the same type that Courtine used in monkeys. Smaller than a stamp and made of silicon, they swarm with a hundred metal probes no thicker than hairs that “listen” while neurons fire their commands.

To create the quadriplegic’s bypass, the team at Case, led by Bolu Ajiboye and Robert Kirsch, also placed over 16 fine electrodes directly into the arm and hand muscles of the man. A video was made of the experiment, which shows the man slowly bringing his arm up with the aid of a spring-loaded type of armrest. While doing this he willed his hand to move, opening and closing it. He was also able to raise a cup holding a straw to his mouth. Without the bypass system, he cannot make any of these movements.

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Try not moving your arms or hands for an entire day. You can sit on them if you want. Just try it. This will tell you how shattering it would be to have a spinal cord injury. There is no way you can wipe your nose or caress your child. “But with this,” says Courtine as he picks up a coffee cup and brings it to his lips using the exaggerated motions of an actor, “your life is changed.”

Spinal Cord Injury Attorney

The results of the Case experiment have still not been published in a medical journal. They form one part of broader research using implanted electronic devices to restore various abilities and senses. Along with treating paralysis, neuroscientists hope to use “neural prosthetics” in an effort to reverse blindness. Chips would be placed right in the eye. They are also trying to restore the memories of Alzheimer’s patients, using Memory Implants”.

They are certain this could work. Cochlear implants are used to bring sound to the deaf. They use a microphone for relaying signals to the auditory nerve. This simply routes around the parts that don’t work in the inner ear. Every month is seems, there are new videos being posted on the Internet that go viral of surprised deaf children hearing the sound of their mother’s voice for the first time. 

 If you or a loved one has been paralyzed due to another's negligence and would like to speak with a spinal cord injuries attorney, please contact us. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

(Source)

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