USC Student Killed in Suspected DUI Crash

Xinhai Huang, a junior majoring in electrical engineering at USC, was killed in a South Los Angeles car crash, which officials say, was caused by a suspected drunk driver. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, the fatal crash occurred during the early morning hours of March 17, 2013 at the intersection of Hyde Park and West boulevards six miles southwest of the university’s campus.

Police say a woman in her early 20’s was driving a Ford Explorer SUV west on Hyde Park when she ran a red light at the intersection of West Boulevard and struck the passenger side of a Ford Mustang that was northbound. Huang, 22, who was sitting on the passenger side, was killed by the impact. Alcohol is suspected in this crash, police said. No arrests have been made pending an investigation. Huang was an honors student at USC and was on the Dean’s list.

Los Angeles DUI Crashes

There were 79 fatalities and 1,989 injuries involving DUI crashes in the city of Los Angeles, according to California Highway Patrol’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS). In Los Angeles County as a whole, 197 people died and 4,359 were injured due to alcohol-related collisions during the same year.

California DUI Laws

Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the SUV may have been under the influence at the time of the collision. According to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.” A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges according to California Penal Code section 191.5 (a).

Liability Issues

In such cases, in addition to facing criminal charges, DUI drivers can also be held civilly liable for the victim’s wrongful death and other injuries and damages. Families of deceased victims can file a claim against the at-fault motorist seeking compensation for damages including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, loss of love and companionship and pain and suffering. Victims’ families would be well advised to contact a knowledgeable Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who has experience financially pursuing drunk drivers on behalf of victims and their families.

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