Timothy Arguello, 19, Todd Salazar, 22, Fealina Espinoza, 16, Vanessa Reyez, 19 and Karley Jack, 18, tragically perished in a Weber County head-on collision occurring on June 26, 2010. According to KSL News, this group of five persons were returning from a camping trip and were driving down the canyon on state Route 39. They were in a Honda Accord and were following another car, a Volkswagen, that had family and friends in it, going westbound near the entrance to South Fork Canyon and 10500 East, around 7:40 a.m.
Video Courtesy of KSL.com.
According to reports, the driver, Arguello, attempted to pass the other car with his friends in it on a blind curve, in an area marked as a no-passing zone. Unbeknownst to Arguello, however, was the existence of a large, one-ton Ford F-350 coming in the opposite direction. This fatal Utah car accident occurred when the two vehicles hit directly head on, with the apparently lifted truck actually going over the top of the Accord and into the passenger compartment. According to the story, all five perished upon impact. Although none of the five were said to be wearing seat belts, I doubt that seat belts in this situation would have saved any of them.
I send my deepest condolences to the families of these lost youth. I will certainly keep them in my prayers. Such a tragic way to go out of this life. I also send my sympathies to the driver and passenger of the Ford truck, who consisted of a husband and wife and a small child in a car seat. Although they were said to have received only minor injuries, the lasting injury for them will be psychological for the part their vehicle played in this terrible crash. This accident, and its aftermath, will be one they will never forget.
Legally speaking, passing in a no-passing zone on a twisty canyon road can never bring good consequences. This accident graphically shows the fatal repercussions for violating such an important safety rule–especially when the duel occurs between a 3,000 pound passenger car and a 7,000 pound plus one-ton pickup truck. I hope that others out there can take a lesson from this accident and if tempted to pass in a no-passing area, will reconsider in the interest of their safety, their passenger’s safety, and the safety of the community.
The victims in the Honda have a claim against the insurance company for Mr. Arguello. There is also a death benefit available on his policy (assuming he had car insurance) for those who lost their lives in this crash. Underinsured coverage may also be available if they had their own Utah car insurance policy or if they lived in a household where someone else had car insurance. It is likely, in this circumstance, however, that the amount of available insurance money will not be near enough to take care of these claims.
In writing this, and in looking at the pictures, I can’t help but wonder if the driver of the Volkswagen, if he or she knew they were being passed, made it more difficult for Arguello to complete this unsafe passing maneuver. Was there some sort of speed contest going on? It appears that there could have been a legal passing lane for a span before this blind curve came up where the crash happened. In other words, did that other driver accelerate to keep from being passed by Arguello so as to keep his or her position in front of him? If this is the case, then that driver potentially contributed to this crash and/or made it more severe than it needed to have been.
Those injured in the Ford truck also have a claim as well against Mr. Arguello. Given that the policy will be burdened with four wrongful death claims, they may need to tap into their “underinsured” policy to cover their bodily injury and mental anguish claims.
I would recommend that those families affected by this tragic crash contact an experienced Utah wrongful death attorney and a Utah personal injury attorney to discuss possible remedies that may be available to them.
The Kramer Law Group does not currently represent any of the parties referenced in the article at the time it was written. We have cited and linked to the source of our information. If you were involved in the above incident, or one like it, and have questions about your rights and possible remedies, you may call us or another reputable Utah personal injury law firm. Do not act based on the above information without getting a consultation. The best Utah personal injury attorneys will offer a free consultation. We offer a free and confidential consultation to those (and their family members) not substantially at fault in causing their accident. The information and opinions expressed above are provided as a public service and should not be used in place of legal advice from a qualified attorney.
Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-666-3959 for a free consultation if you are in need of a Utah car accident attorney.