Our attorneys will continue to provide phone consultations 24 hours a day throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

Wrong Way Driver Causes Head-On Collision, Hospitalizing 9

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.

Wrong Way Driver
Wrong Way Driver

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.

Contact O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley

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.

Two Young Boys Killed In Tragic Highway 4 Crash Identified

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.

Auto Accident Lawyer
Auto Accident

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.

Contact O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley

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

Yelp Award Winner

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. 

Yelp Award Walnut Creek Attorney

Wrong-Way Drivers Can Now be Stopped by New Type of Traffic Radar

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.

Contact O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley

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

2 Arrests Made in Connection With Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire

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.

“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.

Contact O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley

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)

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