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Tow Truck Driver Hit and Killed in West Sacramento

Posted on March 06th, 2015 by Staff

The accident happened on Monday night, February 23 near Jefferson Boulevard in West Sacramento. A 29-year-old tow truck driver and father of 2 was struck and killed by a big rig that swerved onto the shoulder on westbound Highway 50 but never stopped. Minutes earlier, the victim called the company owner saying his tow truck overheated and he needed help fixing it. Octavio Portugal, the towing company owner, responded and helped his employee, only to find out later that he was killed after driving back and seeing the accident scene. CHP officers discovered Mike Bower's body apparently hit by a big rig.

The CHP says the driver may not have been aware he or she struck the tow truck driver, but that does not mean the big rig driver was not breaking the law. Portugal was stunned and visibly shaken to learn his friend and employee was killed outside one of his trucks. A similar accident occurred in 2012 near Auburn when a hit-and-run driver killed tow truck driver David Robinson, Jr., although he had his warning lights on.

California has a "move-over" law that all drivers must obey, according to CHP officer Pedro Leon:

"In California, there is a law that dictates when your lights, warning lights, let's say CalTrans, or tow trucks to move over or slow down," he said. CHP is currently looking for the big rig driver who caused this tragedy.

Hit and Run Statistics

In 2012, there were overall 189 police-reported fatal hit and run collisions and 14,629 injury collisions recorded in the State of California. In these accidents, 194 people lost their lives and 18,824 were injured, most of them requiring a hospital stay.

Regarding pedestrian safety, 4,743 pedestrians died in traffic crashes, and another 76,000 were injured in the United States in 2012. This averages to a pedestrian injury every 7 minutes and one crash-related pedestrian death every 2 hours.

Penalties in California for Felony Hit and Run

A total of 189 police-reported fatal hit and run collisions and 14,629 injury collisions was recorded in the State of California in 2012. In these accidents, 194 people lost their lives and 18,824 were injured, most of them requiring a hospital stay. Regarding pedestrian safety, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, and another 76,000 were injured in the United States in 2012. This averages to a pedestrian injury every 7 minutes and one crash-related pedestrian death every 2 hours.

California Vehicle Code 20001 VC has two different sentencing schemes, one is for accidents that simply cause an injury, and one is for accidents that cause death or permanent, serious injury. If convicted of California felony hit and run involving non-permanent, non-serious injury, you may face any or all of the following:

  • a fine of $1,000 to $10,000
  • up to 1 year in a county jail (if the prosecutor knocks the offense down to a misdemeanor)
  • 16 months or 2 or 3 years in a California state prison (if the prosecutor charges the offense as a felony)
  • restitution, only if the victim's injuries were caused or exacerbated by the fact that you left the scene
  • per the California DMV, 2 points on your driving record

If convicted of California felony hit and run involving death or permanent, serious injury (defined as a loss or permanent impairment of one's body), you face any or all of the following:

  • a fine of $1,000 to $10,000
  • at least 90 days and no more than one year in a county jail (if the prosecutor reduces the charge to a misdemeanor)
  • 2 to 4 years in the California State Prison (if the prosecutor charges the offense as a felony)
  • restitution, only if the victim's injuries were caused or exacerbated by the fact that you left the scene
  • per the California DMV, 2 points on your driving record

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

If you believe a dear one's death was caused by someone's negligence, you must act immediately. There are time limits for your complaint; a lawsuit can be brought within a limited period. Otherwise, you lose the right to seek benefits deriving from the wrongful death liability. Called the "statute of limitations," these time limits depend on who brought about the accidental death, how it happened, and the state where it took place.

In general, the statute of limitations for a death in the State of California is two years from the date of the death.

Contacting an Experienced Hit and Run Accident Attorney In And Around Sacramento & Elk Grove, California

Viewing the fact that hit and run accidents are unfortunately common in our state, my staff and I have extensive experience in resolving these cases. We understand how frustrating it is not to be able to recover damages following a no-fault auto accident; therefore, we do our best to help injured clients. Call the Sacramento & Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm at 800.722.4176 for quality legal representation in your case.

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