Humberto Ayala Accident: Salinas Valley State Prison Correctional Officer Humberto Ayala Died In Car Accident After Big Rig Truck Made Dangerous Left Turn
CHUALAR, CALIFORNIA (October 18, 2018) A 36-year-old correctional officer for the Salinas Valley State Prison identified as Humberto Ayala was killed in a car accident on Highway 101 after a big rig truck driver made a left turn.
California Highway Patrol are saying that the fatal truck accident took place around 4:18 p.m. on Wednesday. A big rig truck that was pulling two trailers was trying to make a left turn from the southbound 101 freeway.
The driver of the truck failed to notice that Humberto Ayala was driving towards him in a 2005 Nissan Altima. Chualar authorities said that the victim’s vehicle became wedged underneath the second trailer.
The semi-truck continued to drag the Nissan for some time before coming to a stop in the northbound lanes of traffic.
Officer Humberto Ayala was transported to Natividad where he later died due to his injuries. SVSP Public Information Officer Lt. Eduardo Mazariegos described the victim as a great person and well loved.
Officer Mazariegos went on to describe how Highway 101 in Salinas can be hazardous. “Everyone here has a story about this stretch of road. It’s dangerous,” he said.
According to Officer Mazariegos, the design of the roads in the county has not kept up with the population. He hopes that this is a wake up call for city officials to take action and make the roads safer.
Designing Roads To Be Safe
Road safety is a concern all across the world. An estimated 1.3 million people die globally as a result of car accidents. Another 20-50 million become injured or disabled. The International Road Federation and the United Nations have taken a number of steps to better understand the problems and produce workable solutions. Accordingly, they’ve put forward a number of recommendations to promote safe road design. One of the keys to safe road infrastructure design is consistency so that drivers don’t encounter unexpected road conditions. Here are just a few of the other key elements to safe road design:
Roads should have adequate distance from natural roadside features.
There should be wide lane widths and shoulders on roads where vehicles travel at higher speeds.
Barriers should be designed to safely deflect vehicles away from roadside hazards.
Road signs should be standardized throughout a country.
There should be recoverables slopes for errant vehicles. According to the Federal Highway Administration, “A non-recoverable slope is a slope which is considered traversable but on which an errant vehicle will continue to the bottom. Embankment slopes between 1V:3H and 1V:4H may be considered traversable but non-recoverable if they are smooth and free of fixed objects.”
There should be consistency in road geometry. Simply put, roads shouldn’t have sharp curves or abrupt changes in speed.
Making roads safer takes time, but it can be accomplished with enough effort. People have to demand change and request that their elected officials make road safety a priority. A victim of a car accident on a poorly designed road may have the ability to file a claim for damages against the public entity responsible for taking care of the road.
Liability In Truck Accidents On Poorly Designed Roads
There may potentially be a number of entities that could face civil liability for the tragic death of correctional officer Humberto Ayala. To begin with, the operator of a truck could be liable for an accident if they made an unsafe left turn. Highway 101 in Salinas by Chualar has a number of spots where drivers can make very risky left turns.
This is arguably a poor design choice. But as long as it’s possible to make left turns on the road drivers must do so while following traffic laws. According to the California Vehicle Code 21801. (a), “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.” In short, drivers have to make sure that no one is close enough to hit them when they make a left turn. Drivers will almost always be held at fault if they make a left turn and cause an accident, unless they had a green arrow.
In addition to driver negligence, there may also be negligence on the part of a city if a dangerous condition on the roadway contributed to the accident. According to California Government Code 835, a public entity may be liable for an injury or death proximately caused by a dangerous condition in the roadway if that dangerous condition created a reasonably foreseeable risk. Moreover, an employee of a public entity will need to have created the dangerous condition while working within the course of their employment. Or, the public entity may be liable if they were given actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition and failed to correct it. A car accident attorney familiar with municipal negligence and road design can examine the facts of your case and let you know what your rights are.
Preserving Your Rights After An Accident On A Dangerous Road
We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our condolences to the family of Officer Humberto Ayala. There needs be changes put in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. It’s time for city officials to wake up and take notice of the dangerous roads in Salinas and Chualar. The government must make sure that our roads are designed with safety in mind. There also needs to be some accountability for the truck driver that made this deeply unsafe left turn. We encourage anyone that may have seen what happened to reach out to investigators.
If you or someone that you love has been injured or killed in a truck accident you may have legal recourse. Our team of highly experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. We have the resources to investigate your case at no cost and to let you know what your options are. Our primary goal is making sure that our clients get justice after an accident and that negligent parties are held responsible for their actions. Whether you just want free legal advice about your situation or are seeking legal counsel we are here for you. You can reach us anytime at (888) 888-9285.
Kate Cimini. UPDATE: Man killed on Highway 101 ID’d as Salinas Valley State Prison correctional officer. October 18, 2018
K.K. Kapila. SAFE ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE DESIGN FOR HIGHWAYS. 2018
Joann M.O. Rangel, Esq. Design Immunity for Public Entities: Best Practices for Avoiding Liability. 2018