Elderly Driver Injures 9 at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre
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Elderly Driver Injures 9 at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre

emergency responder ambulanceLast Saturday, at least nine concertgoers at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre were injured when an elderly driver caused a chain-reaction crash outside the venue’s parking area. Hundreds had gathered for a Pacific Symphony concert under the stars when an 81-year-old man, who was driving in the ampitheatre parking lot, inexplicably plowed into a fence, causing the chain reaction.

Irvine police officials told the LA Times that the driver’s vehicle struck a fence, several pedestrians, and a car before hitting an empty police vehicle. The impact pushed the police cruiser onto the ampitheatre lawn, where it crashed into several concertgoers who were picnicking.

“There was just a lot of commotion, people screaming,” Belinda Echevers told the OC Register. Echevers witnessed the accident from the box office, where she had been waiting for friends. “A lot of people were shaking. It happened so close to them that they were shaking. … I was scared. I did not know what had happened.”

4 people suffer serious injuries in crash

Orange county authorities confirmed that a total of nine concertgoers were injured during the accident; paramedics treated all on the scene, and four were taken to area hospitals for medical treatment. Four of the injured — the spectators who had been hit by the police car – suffered severe injuries, officials said.

Preliminary investigations suggested that alcohol or drug impairment may have contributed to the driver’s actions, but these speculations were later dismissed.  In the end, the driver’s “advanced age” is thought to be the main contributing factor in the crash.

Irvine police are handling the accident as a traffic collision, and because there is no evidence that the 81-year old man was intoxicated or impaired at the time, no arrests have been made.

Dangers posed by elderly drivers

According to research conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, aging drivers (those who are 65 and older) are responsible for as many as 14 million traffic accidents a year. For many elderly people, the thought of giving up driving is akin to losing their independence. However, older drivers have slower reflexes, slower reaction times, and in many cases, reduced visibility.

There is no doubt that it’s hard for senior drivers, or their family members, to admit they may no longer be safe behind the wheel. But when elders have increasing numbers of “close calls” or “near misses,” on the road, it may be time to turn over the keys.

Legal recourse for accident victims

Accident statistics show that older dangerous drivers are a growing problem. It’s also daunting to consider that by the year 2030, more than 9.6 million of our country’s population will be 85 and older. In some cases, the burden of liability rests on the elder driver’s spouse or family – people who could have had their loved one’s license revoked when signs of dangerous behavior or medical inability first appeared.

Ellis Injury Law helps explain your legal rights in the wake of physical injury or property damage caused by a negligent driver. To learn more about pursuing a car accident lawsuit in Los Angeles, please call our offices toll-free at 1-800-INJURED for a free case review.