Case details

Man fatally run over during multiple vehicle collision





Result type

Not present

blunt force trauma to the head, head
In the early morning hours of Feb. 22, 2009, plaintiffs’ decedent Mauro Avalos Garcia, 20, was involved in a single vehicle accident on southbound Highway 280, just north of the Winchester Boulevard exit in San Jose. As he stood outside his car, either inspecting it for damage or trying to warn oncoming vehicles, he or his disabled vehicle was struck by Diana Yi. Following the collision, a car driven by Robert Hennings struck Yi’s stopped vehicle. As a result, Garcia ended up lying in the number five lane of travel, where he was run over by David Cano. Garcia subsequently died from multiple blunt force trauma. According to autopsy results, Garcia had a blood alcohol level of .23 at the time of the accident. Yi had a blood alcohol level of .16. Cano acknowledged consuming alcohol that evening, but passed all sobriety tests and his blood was not measured. Garcia’s parents, Humberto Avalos and Carmen Garcia Medina sued Yi, Cano and Hennings. They alleged that the defendants were negligent in the operation of their respective vehicles, making them liable for their son’s wrongful death. Hennings was ultimately dropped from the suit, and the matter proceeded to trial against the remaining defendants. Plaintiffs’ counsel argued that the Yi and Cano were at fault for Garcia’s death. Counsel contended that Yi’s intoxication caused the initial impact which caused a chain reaction that led to Garcia’s death. Counsel also contended that Cano failed to keep a proper lookout and fatally ran over Garcia. Yi’s counsel argued that there was insufficient forensic evidence to establish that Yi’s vehicle had struck the decedent. Counsel contended that the decedent’s were most consistent with being run over by Cano’s vehicle. However, Yi’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the complexity of the blunt force trauma made it impossible to determine which impact had cause decedent’s death. Yi claimed that that no reasonable person would have been able to avoid the collision, as the darkness and rainy conditions caused the decedent and his vehicle to not be visible as she approached. Yi’s counsel also argued that the decedent’s intoxication had been a cause of his own injury and harm, since Garcia was standing on the freeway in the dark, where approaching drivers could not see him. Cano’s counsel contended that the decedent had been crushed between the front of Yi’s vehicle and the rear of Cano’s car, resulting in terminal at that moment. Counsel also contended that when Cano’s vehicle ran over the top of decedent, he was already dead from the initial impact. Cano’s accident reconstruction expert testified that the existence of a scoop of fabric from Garcia’s pants on the tail pipe of Garcia’s vehicle, as well as the pattern of impact and the scatter of human material on the roadway, were consistent with the decedent being crushed between the front of the Yi vehicle and the rear of the Garcia vehicle. Cano’s counsel further contended that because of prevailing weather and visibility conditions, Cano was not negligent in failing to avoid the decedent’s body in the roadway. Plaintiffs’ counsel countered that the decedent was no more than one-third at fault, if the jury believed his negligence was a potential cause of his own harm., Garcia sustained multiple blunt force trauma and died at the scene. He was 20. Garcia’s parents did not ask the jury to award a specific amount, but their counsel suggested that “a million dollars” would be insufficient to compensate them for the loss of their son. However, the parents did claim burial expenses in the amount of $35,000.
Superior Court of Santa Clara County, Santa Clara, CA

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