May 13, 2021
Since the coronavirus lockdowns began, high-speed car accidents – many in excess of 100 miles per hour – have been consistently reported throughout Southern California. Just last week, two people were killed and another seriously injured in a high-speed, multi-car crash near Sylmar that local ABC 7 referred to as “horrific.” Last year, we posted a blog examining the latest data confirming an uptick in reckless driving behaviors, leading to a 14% jump in fatality rates per miles driven in March 2020.
With fewer cars on the road, and law enforcement preoccupied with urgent COVID-19 matters, many drivers decided to operate their vehicles at high speeds along the roads and highways throughout California that would otherwise have been congested with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Speeding has always been recognized as a significant cause of major traffic collisions, a confirmed factor in 26% of all 2019 car accident fatalities. The total number of fatal motor vehicle crashes attributed to speeding that year was 8,544 (killing 9,478, or an average of over 25 people per day).
But a less recognized (and perhaps poorly understood) issue known as ‘street racing’ is, according to authorities, becoming an increasing threat to drivers. In fact, authorities caution that anyone sharing the roads (including pedestrians and bicyclists) is at risk, particularly here in Southern California.
Last month, the BBC published an investigative report on illegal street racing, focusing primarily on the city of Atlanta. The media outlet noted, “People tend to use ‘street racing‘ as an umbrella term. It might mean two cars speeding side-by-side… Or it could be what the law calls ‘laying drag,‘ which includes drivers zig-zagging or doing 360-degree doughnut spins.”
A few weeks after the BBC report, ABC News published a story – “Street racing in California only getting more brazen, and more dangerous” – focusing on the issue plaguing the Golden State. The report stated that over the past decades, “California and car culture have gone hand-in-hand. Illegal races offer the chance to drive cars fast, burn rubber and get a rush of adrenaline, but it’s a lifestyle steeped in risk and recklessness. The slightest mistake can be deadly.”
ABC interviewed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant, Michael Downing, a 17-year veteran who reportedly knows the risk of illegal street racing “all too well.”
“It seems lately, almost every weekend or every couple of weeks, we have a fatality somewhere in the county that’s related to street racing,” Sergeant Downing said. “You see on the freeway, all the time, the high speeds and they crash into somebody who’s going slower or [an] innocent party on the freeway gets killed.”
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In March, DLG posted a blog following the now notorious fatal high-speed crash involving 17-year-old Brendan Khuri (son of multi-millionaire businessman and CEO of FJ Holdings, James Khuri). In February, Brendan Khuri was allegedly street racing his Lamborghini SUV when he crashed into 32-year-old Monique Munoz’s vehicle. Khuri was traveling at such a high rate of speed that the force of the collision reportedly split Munoz’s Lexus sedan in half.
Following the fatal car crash, LAPD West Traffic issued a public statement declaring it was a “costly reminder for everyone to slow down.” LAPD Captain Brian Wendling confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Khuri was driving at a “high rate of speed” when he slammed into Munoz.
Last month, Brendan Khuri pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in juvenile court. He was placed under house arrest and is scheduled to have a disposition setting hearing on June 30. While he awaits sentencing, Khuri will reportedly wear an ankle monitor.
Following the tragic car accident, a movement on social media – #JusticeforMoniqueMunoz – gained a substantial following, with friends, family, and concerned residents of Los Angeles imploring the L.A. District Attorney’s Office to file charges against Khuri. Though the accident occurred on February 17, the teenager was not charged until April 7.
The Monique Munoz tragedy is one of many examples of street racing gone awry. In April, two men and a 14-year-old boy were killed after crashing their Toyota vehicle into a South Los Angeles building. Authorities believe the fatal car accident many have been the result of street racing.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported that the driver of the Toyota was traveling eastbound on Florence Avenue at an unsafe speed when he lost control and hit a Jeep. The Jeep was then rammed into a third vehicle – a Honda – and the Toyota continued to “spin out of control before it hit the bank, and then ricocheted into a pole,” according to CBS 2 Los Angeles.
The Toyota’s front passenger was reportedly ejected from the car. The scene of the deadly crash drew dozens of onlookers, and CBS reported that the crowd “became combative with police officers.”
Authorities are investigating to determine whether or not street racing was the cause of the crash.
Earlier this week, KTLA reported that police have expressed concerns over “street racing-meets-burnout events,” noting that such gatherings not only block traffic, but can be “dangerous to participants and lead to violence among onlookers.” KTLA referred to the street racing as an “ongoing problem for a lot of people,” stating that, in addition to the crowds that gather on-site, thousands of followers watch as the events are livestreamed on various social media channels.
In a separate report, KTLA spoke with California Highway Patrol officials regarding the dangers of these “street takeovers,” which have become a more common occurrence over the past few months.
“Street racing and takeovers have become a huge problem in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding L.A. area,” a CHP official told the media outlet earlier this year. “We are currently deploying additional officers to combat these street racing issues and we are now utilizing our Street Racing Task Force as well as our surrounding law enforcement agencies.”
In the KTLA report, CHP officials cautioned that both spectators and participants can be “seriously hurt” at these events, adding that whether you’re engaging in illegal street racing or simply observing, you could face a misdemeanor conviction.
Earlier this month, three men were killed and two women hospitalized after a fiery car crash in Anaheim. On May 4, Anaheim police reported a two-vehicle collision at around 2:45 a.m. near the intersection of Brookhurst Street and Orange Avenue.
Firefighters were dispatched to the scene, where a Mercedes-Benz was engulfed in flames after colliding with a Kia sedan. According to ABC 7, authorities found the two occupants of the Mercedes at a nearby hospital after fleeing the scene of the accident.
While police did not confirm whether or not street racing was involved, ABC 7 reported that some witnesses suspected it was the cause of the crash.
“I saw a car, which is the black car, dragging [racing] the white Mercedes flying super fast. When I ran there to help, I just saw people in the car dead,” Sal Zatar, one of the first witnesses to arrive at the scene, told ABC 7. “From the white Mercedes, I saw two people pick up a female driver from the white Mercedes and they put her in another car and took off.”
Police have indicated charges are likely, but not definite.
“We will take into consideration whether they were leaving the scene for the purposes of seeking medical attention,” said Anaheim police Sergeant, Shane Carringer. “As a passenger, you don’t have an obligation to stay on scene of a collision. But as a driver, you do.”
With illegal street racing on the rise throughout the Los Angeles-area, a veritable danger exists that could impact anyone. If you’re injured in any type of car accident involving negligence, malice, or operator error, you have rights under the law. Filing a civil lawsuit can be the best means of recovering substantial financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and much more.
Injured car accident victims have two years from the date of the accident to file a civil claim seeking financial damages. The two-year statute of limitations applies to most car accident cases, although victims under the age of 18 may have additional time. Regardless, filing a claim as soon as possible is advised, as critical evidence can be time-sensitive.
Injuries can manifest and even linger long after a car accident occurs. If you experienced any type of car accident injury within the past two years, you may have a valid claim for a financial damages award.
Dordulian Law Group (DLG) has established its premier Car Accident Division with the belief that all California residents should have access to the best legal representation available without having to worry about out-of-pocket expenses or upfront costs. Former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian, has established a firm offering unique advantages for injured car accident victims to help ensure they recover the maximum financial damages awards they deserve.
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Contact us today online or by phone at 818-322-4056 for a free consultation. We’re here to fight as your aggressive and dedicated advocate after a car accident injury. And we’ll never settle for less than a maximum financial damages award on your behalf.
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