ORANGE COUNTY, California – What do a pair of doughnut shops, a drugstore and a Christian church have in common? These buildings were all victims of recent car crashes by elderly drivers who mistook the gas pedal for the brake pedal. Pedal misappropriation can happen any time or place and the consequences are not only damaging to the buildings they hit, but deadly to anyone in the driver’s path.
- The latest car crash due to accelerator misappropriation was at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday when an 84-year-old woman crashed her silver Toyota sedan into the front of a CVS drugstore at 2138 N. Tustin Street in Orange. The driver was attempting to park in a handicapped parking space. Fortunately no one was injured in the car crash.
- An 84-year-old Irvine woman crashed her Toyota Camry into the Heritage Christian Fellowship church on Thursday morning about 10 a.m. after she mistook the gas pedal for the brake.
- A 90-something driver was injured and she struck three men when she crashed her Cadillac Northstar into DK’s Donuts on January 30 at 3744 E. Chapman Avenue. She was attempting to back out of a parking space, but hit the gas by accident.
- On Feb. 19, a man in his 60s having trouble placing his vehicle in park suddenly hit the gas pedal and drove into Donut Star in Sana Ana at 2509 S. Harbor Boulevard. Two bystanders were treated for minor injuries at the scene of the car accident.
Indeed pedal misappropriation is more often associated with older drivers whose slower reaction time, weaker muscles and sometimes foot or leg problems can make it difficult to press the appropriate pedal when driving. Sometimes such pedal errors can lead to deadly crashes with serious injuries or death.
Some of the deadliest crashes caused by pedal errors in California include a 2003 crash in Santa Monica where 10 people were killed and 63 were injured after 86-year-old George Russell Weller sped through a busy farmer’s market at an estimated 60 mph. He was later found guilty of 10 counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
At his trial, the Los Angeles Times reported in Sept. 2006, Weller’s attorney called an expert witness who testified that drivers react two ways to pedal error: they either hit the pedal harder or start pumping the pedal because they wonder why the brake isn’t working, psychologist Anthony Stein told the court. He added that once a driver has made a pedal error it’s nearly impossible to correct the mistake.
Other deadly accidents involving pedal error include a San Diego crash where an 86-year-old man hit the gas pedal instead of the brake and ran down a 40-year-old man at Costco leaving him seriously injured. Additionally, a 91-year-old man died more than a year ago after he drove his Chevrolet pickup truck off a cliff at Cabrillo National Monument Park in San Diego.
“Certainly no driver intends to hit the gas instead of the brakes, but those who do are liable to victims for their injuries and to business and property owners for property damages they cause in such accidents,” said Attorney West Seegmiller, founder of the Seegmiller Law Firm.
The Seegmiller Law Firm can be reached at 1-855-ASK–WEST. For over 30 years, the firm has been a staunch advocate for victims’ rights and has fought for clients involved in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including premises liability, product liability, auto accidents, dog bites, nursing home negligence, medical malpractice, at-work injuries and more. The firm has offices in Irvine, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada.