California Family Files Wrongful Death Suit After a Hit-and-Run Accident

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Max Kellogg
Legal Staff Writer

A San Buenaventura family filed a lawsuit on June 22, 2016, alleging wrongful death, negligence, emotional distress and willful misconduct after a hit-and-run accident took the life of a member of their household, 14-year-old Jonathan Hernandez.

On February 18, 2016, Jonathan was riding his bicycle to a friend’s home when a tow truck struck him. Officials reported that while Jonathan was lying on the ground from the blow of the tow truck, another vehicle hit him, however no information was released about the second vehicle. Approximately 18 hours later, the driver of the tow truck, Martin Henderson, called police to confess that he had been operating the tow truck at the time of the accident.

In addition to naming Henderson as defendant, the Jonathan’s family also named Double R Towing Company, the City of San Buenaventura and the County of Ventura as defendants in the lawsuit. In the plaintiffs’ complaint, it is alleged that the City and County had a contract with Henderson and knew that he was “unfit and unqualified to drive a tow truck” because he had a history of unsafe driving incidents. The attorney for the family believes that previous offenses for illegal lane change and failure to stop were enough to prohibit the City from contracting Henderson to drive a tow truck. In contrast, the attorney for Henderson stated that there was no way to avoid the accident. Further, the defense counsel asserted that surveillance cameras show that Jonathan, while wearing dark clothing and steering a bike with no reflector, rode through a red light and that Henderson had the right of way.

Jonathan’s mother, Joanna, claims in the complaint that her grief and emotional distress over the death of her child was heightened by the “knowledge that Jonathan was left to die and lie dead in the road for hours like an animal.”

This case is: Hernandez v. Henderson, 56-2016-00483230-CU-PO-VTA

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