Luis Guzman, 27, and his sister Cecilia Guzman, 22, were killed in a Ventura County rollover car accident as they were returning from the Los Angeles Lakers victory parade in downtown Los Angeles the afternoon of June 17, 2009. According to a news report in the Ventura County Star, five people were traveling in a grey Hummer when the driver, Anthony Borrello, 24, lost control and the Hummer rolled over several times before coming to rest in the center median of Pacific Coast Highway near Hueneme Road. California Highway Patrol officials said the Hummer appeared to have drifted off the right shoulder of the road before coming back on the highway and the median where it overturned several times.
CHP officials say they do not know why the Hummer went off the road in the first place. Authorities say the Guzman siblings, may not have been wearing seatbelts when they were ejected from the vehicle as it overturned. Luis died at the scene while Cecilia was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries. She died a few hours after the crash. Borrello, and two of the other occupants, Peter Aguilar, 26, of Carpinteria, and Oxnard resident, Pedro Ramirez, 24 apparently had had their seat belts on and suffered only minor injuries. Alcohol or drugs were not factors in this fatal car accident, officials said.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Guzman brother and sister for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Here was a group of good friends out cheering the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA title and having a good time. This is a horrible end to what probably started out as a great day of celebration! I wish the injured victims the very best for a quick and complete recovery. Please keep them in your prayers.
In this particular case, it is not clear why the Hummer drifted off the right shoulder of the road. It was broad daylight. Officials say alcohol was not a factor and there is no mention in the article of anyone falling asleep or the driver talking on the cell phone or distracted in any other way. The question that then arises is: Was there a mechanical problem or an auto product defect in the Hummer that may have caused it to go off the road?
The Hummer is well known for having an inherently high center of gravity that makes the vehicle prone to tipping over even at low speeds. Another problem associated with this car is notoriously poor steering control. If I were handling this case, I’d look into whether this was the reason the vehicle went off the road initially and then rolled over while Borrello attempted to correct the steering. In many rollover accidents, preliminary reports tend to assume that the person ejected was not wearing a seatbelt. This is not always the case because seat belt failures and seat restraint system defects occur. It requires an expert to carefully investigate and sift through evidence before ruling out these types of failures.
The Guzman family would be well advised to retain the services of a reputed California motor vehicle defects law firm. A product liability attorney can look into whether steering defects, seatbelt defects or any other auto product defect may have caused or contributed to the fatal injuries. If that was the case, the family of the deceased victims may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the defective product to claim compensation for medical or funeral expenses, loss of wages and other related damages. The injured victims in this car crash also have similar legal rights. The Hummer is the key piece of evidence in this case and so it must be preserved in its current crashed condition, unaltered, until it can be examined by an expert for mechanical problems, auto product defects and other evidence. The best personal injury attorneys will always provide a free and comprehensive initial consultation to injured victims and their families.