November 2, 2009–Two recent crashes on Highway 46 killed 6 adults and an infant. Last Wednesday three 19 year olds from the Bay Area and Southern California–Driver Steven Dub and passengers Kayla Shepard and Hilary-Kendall Fix–were killed on Highway 46 near Wasco when their Toyota Corolla collided head-on with a truck after a failed high-speed passing attempt. Five days earlier on October 23, Shirlene Ann Soto, 62 and Walter Earl Elliott, 84, both of Los Osos, died when their Prius smashed head-on into a Chevy Cavalier that was trying to pass two trucks on Highway 46 near Highway 33. The driver of the Cavalier, Jose Alberto Sanchez, 25 of Avenal, and 1 year old Nathaniel Sanchez were also killed.
A 25 year old female passenger was taken to Kern Medical Center with major injuries. Ironically, the accidents arrive just before a groundbreaking ceremony planned for November 10 that will mark the beginning of an expansion project from 2 lanes to 4 lanes. The construction plans were sparked by a major automobile accident on Highway 46 in 1999 involving a Bakersfield woman. The family ultimately sued the state alleging a dangerous condition of public property and the State settled for $4 million in 2001.
Despite the number of fatal accidents along Highway 46, officials still debate how deadly it really is. Lw Enforcement officials have maintained that motorists are causing these accidents. The speed limit is 55 mph and there have been many times the average speed was 70 mph. Some claim the road’s design makes people impatient.
The issues to review after a tragic accident such as these include: availability of insurance coverage or assets on behalf of the party who began passing, whether other vehicles were speeding and thus closing the distance too fast, the availability of uninsured motorist coverage, any slopes or curves in the roadway, and the accident history of the road to show knowledge of its dangerous propensities. To explore these issues further, please give us a call. john rozier 559-713-0159 www.nelsonrozier.com