Drunken driver kills 3, causes 8-car pileup in Monterey County

Three Bay Area residents on their way home from a funeral were killed in an eight-car pileup on Highway 101 in Monterey County that police are blaming on a drunken driver.

Vivian Ramirez, 42, lost control of her southbound Ford SUV, swerved across the dirt median and slammed into the family’s two-car caravan near Jolon Road, said Highway Patrol Officer Zoltan Treiner.

Ramirez was intoxicated and lost control of the car after reaching for her cell phone just before the Wednesday night crash, police said.

Four people were in the first car, a Volkswagen sedan driven by Rafael Llamas, 37, who died after he was ejected through the windshield. Passenger Graciela Llamas, 39, also died at the scene. Both lived in Napa. A second passenger, Maria Ochoa, 53, of Pleasanton died Thursday at Fresno Community Hospital.

The Volkswagen’s fourth passenger, who is also from Pleasanton, is clinging to life at San Jose Regional Medical Center, authorities said.

It is unclear how the four victims were related, authorities said.

Police say Ramirez also smashed head-on with the second car in the family’s caravan. One passenger in that 2009 Toyota was taken to Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital with moderate injuries.

Ramirez, a resident of Gonzales (Monterey County), was taken to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with major injuries. Once she is released from the hospital she’ll be arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, Treiner said.

Investigators will not know the amount of alcohol in her blood for a few days, Treiner said.

Another car driving north hit with the engine that had been ripped out of the Volkswagen. That car ran into another car, which flipped onto its side. No one in either of those cars was seriously injured.

Three other cars traveling north on 101 hit each other as they tried to avoid the crash, Treiner said. Both drivers and a passenger suffered minor injuries.


Alcohol  impaired driving accidents and wrongful death liability

Driving under the impairment of alcohol or drugs is a conscious choice, and drivers who choose to drive under the influence may face both criminal consequences for their actions, and civil liability for wrongful death or personal injury. While this accident remains under investigation, the family members of the  victims may benefit from speaking to an experienced and knowledgeable Monterey County DUI accident victim attorney. A skilled attorney who has represented numerous victims of alcohol related conditions can advise the victims’ families of their legal rights and best course of action to hold the driver accountable to the maximum legal extent.
The laws regarding wrongful death cases are complex and include many facets of the law.  It is vital to surviving family members to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer such as Gary A Kessler at the Law Offices of Gary A Kessler to protect your rights and those of your loved ones.

The Monterey wrongful death attorney Gary A Kessler and the Law Offices of Gary A Kessler are compassionate and fully understand that you are attempting to cope with extreme grief and sorrow associated with the loss of a loved one.  The Law Offices of Gary A Kessler carefully selects its wrongful death cases so that we may give you (the client) the substantial personal attention neccessary to obtain a successful result for your wrongful death case.

The Law Offices of Gary A Kessler is prepared to front all costs required for a thorough investigation and expert witnesses to prepare for trial of your case.  As in all wrongful death and serious personal injury cases, we advance all legal costs to prepare and present our client’s claim, and receive for our services only a percentage of what we recover for our attorney fees on their behalf.  Upon settlement our costs shall be reimbursed to us from the gross recovery.  If there is no recovery, no attorneys fees or costs are owed to our firm.

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