SANTA BARBARA – The Daily Breeze is reporting an accident that killed two high school students from North High School in Torrance. The three victims included best friends Danielle Murillo and Jessica Leffew, both 17-year-old seniors. The third victim was Brian Adonay Lopez, the boyfriend of Jessica.
They were traveling down highway-101 near Santa Barbara just after midnight when for unknown reasons, Danielle’s 20-year-old boyfriend who was at the wheel at the time allowed the car to veer to the right. Their 2005 Mazda smashed into the guardrail, flipped onto it’s roof and slid to the middle of the freeway. Moments later a 2013 Ford Mustang smashed into the Mazda, ejecting and killing both the young high school girls inside.
Erick Hoel August, the young driver of the Mazda and boyfriend of Danielle, survived the accident in critical condition. The driver of the Mustang, a 52-year-old Santa Barbara woman, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
The article then goes on to explain the sorrow felt throughout North High School and among the family and friends of the victims.
In an accident like this, where should our sympathies lie? Is it with Erick, who now must live with the death of two young women and a young man on his conscience? Is it the driver of the Mustang, who may have been able to react quickly enough to the overturned car had she not been (allegedly) driving under the influence?
No, of course both of them will almost certainly feel guilt over the incident in due time, but it’s the young women and man who are the true and clear victims in this case. More specifically, it’s the family and friends who will suffer the most over this tragedy.
Stories like this have the ability to remind us that whether it’s a young developing adult like Erick, or a middle-aged Santa Barbara woman who still hasn’t realized the danger of driving while intoxicated, we are all liable to be held accountable for our actions.
Unfortunately being held accountable doesn’t always (and in the case of Wrongful Death never will) do justice to the actual damages done. But when the criminal system fails to exact it’s duty, sometimes the best we can hope for are the reparations available through our civil system.
My sincerest thoughts and condolences go out to the affected family and friends of this terrible incident. If nothing else we can hope this serves as a reminder as to the frailty of human life, even when it’s encapsulated by hundreds of pounds of steel.