The Oceanside Police Department reports that a grandmother and two of her daughters died Tuesday as the result of injuries sustained in a crash. The accident occurred just before 1 p.m. on Tuesday at the intersection of Coast Highway and Oceanside Boulevard. Three other family members were injured.
The grandmother, Rufina Rodriguez, age 74 of Fallbrook, was traveling with her daughters Petra Arango, age 40 of Oceanside, and Eloina Arango, age 56 of Mexico when a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck broadsided their Mazda sedan. Rodriguez’s car went into a spin, ejecting a 13-year-old girl and one other passenger. Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene; the third victim died later at the hospital. All surviving passengers are expected to recover.
The driver of the Tacoma pickup truck, police say, Mason Fish, age 19, was not injured. Fish was arrested at the scene and faces seven felony charges, including gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and causing bodily injury, and possession of a controlled narcotic substance. He is scheduled for arraignment on Thursday.
Oceanside police say that Fish failed to stop at a traffic light. Witnesses at the scene told local media that Fish did not even hit his brakes prior to the collision, and he did not seem to be concerned for the injured at the scene. The accident remains under investigation.
Gross vehicular manslaughter is an enhanced manslaughter charge, due to the allegation of driving under the influence of a controlled narcotic substance. This charge, which falls under Penal Code 192 (c)(1), has a maximum sentence of six years in state prison. Notably, a vehicular manslaughter charge can be enhanced in California to a DUI/murder or Watson murder charge. This charge may be levied for repeat DUI offenders who have been educated about the dangers of driving under the influence via a Watson advisement when they were previously convicted. There is no indication that prosecutors are seeking that type of enhancement in this case, however.
Driving while under the influence of drugs can be quite dangerous, and unfortunately, more people drive drugged than you’d imagine. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2016, 11.8 million drivers hopped behind the wheel while under the influence of illegal or illicit drugs. Although it has not been established which drug was allegedly used by the driver in this accident, controlled substances can make drivers drowsy, less alert, and more apt to make mistakes while driving or experience delayed reaction time. Being under the influence of drugs affects drivers similarly to being under the influence of alcohol.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident with a drunk or drugged driver, contact our car accident lawyer in Los Angeles right away to discuss your legal options. You may be able to file a car accident claim to collect damages for any losses experienced as a result. Set up your free, no-obligation case consultation with our compassionate and skilled legal team now.