According to a story in the Orange County Register, a beloved Fullerton Union High School teacher died today, more than three weeks after he was seriously injured during a traffic collision. Jeff Rupp, a 58-year-old government and philosophy instructor and 2007 teacher of the year, was critically injured after colliding with a car while riding his 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle during the evening hours January 19th. Rupp died just after 2 p.m. Friday, Orange County Coroner's Office officials said. The exact cause and location of his death weren't immediately clear.
As for the circumstances surrounding the accident, police say Rupp was riding northbound on Euclid Street when the driver of a 2004 Hyundai sedan traveling southbound on Euclid made a left turn in front of him in the Malvern Avenue intersection. Rupp, who suffered head injuries and broken bones in the collision, was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange in very critical condition. According to updates of Rupp's condition posted on the Fullerton Union High School web page, Rupp was moved from the intensive-care unit at UCI Medical Center to a different facility early Friday but remained in a coma and nonresponsive. Several hours later, the school posted "with a very heavy heart" that Rupp had passed away.
Police do not believe that alcohol, drugs or excessive speeds were factors in the crash but are investigating the driver of the Hyundai for failing to yield. No charges have been filed.
See the full story and photographs HERE.
It is very unfortunate that accidents just like the one above happen with alarming frequency. Motorcycles simply are not as visible as automobiles and drivers often overlook their approach during their turning maneuvers. It goes without saying that a motorcycle is no match for even a small passenger car when these accidents occur, and safety equipment (even DOT required helmets) cannot prevent serious injuries or fatalities. In the situation above, the driver of the Hyundai had an obligation to comply with the requirements of California Vehicle Code § 21801, which provides in part:
(a) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.
It seems a logical inference that the driver of the Hyundai violated this section, unless there are circumstances beyond the operator's control that would have blocked his view of the oncoming motorcycle.
Compensation for victims of motorcycle traffic accidents, should be an important concern for all Californians. When a driver operates their vehicle carelessly and causes an accident with a motorcyclist, they should be held accountable. An Orange County trial lawyer with experience at handling such cases can make a fair assessment of these claims. Mr. Ralph has 20 years years of experience handling personal injury cases, including just this type. He can be reached at 714-919-4415 for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Have you or a loved one been injured in an automobile versus motorcycle accident?
- Nothing in this post is intended to suggest the Law Offices of Paul W. Ralph currently represents anyone involved in the news story above. This posting should not be construed as legal advice or an opinion on the merit of any particular matter. A consultation is the best way to obtain an assessment of your potential case.