A San Diego police officer's pursuit of a suspected drunk driver reportedly ended in tragedy earlier this week. Instead of apprehending the DUI suspect, the officer crashed into a pedestrian who was not involved in the police chase, ultimately causing his death.
According to reports from the San Diego Sheriff's Department, the fatal pedestrian accident occurred in the early morning hours in San Marcos, which is about 25 miles north of San Diego. The sheriff's deputy was reportedly pursuing a drunk driving suspect at high speeds near a popular commercial area when the pedestrian, who is believed to have been an employee of a nearby restaurant, stepped off the median into the road.
Unable to stop in time, the sheriff's deputy crashed into the pedestrian, causing him to suffer fatal injuries.
It is not yet known whether the deputy will be penalized for the accident or the fatality. He had reportedly not yet activated his police siren and lights when the pedestrian stepped out into the street, and it is not clear whether that decision followed police protocol. In addition, media reports do not indicate whether the pedestrian was crossing the street against or in accordance with the stoplight's commands.
What is certain is that this accident and its resulting fatality are both very tragic and sad. Even if the sheriff's department does not decide to inflict any penalties on the deputy involved in the crash, the family of the deceased man could potentially have a valid wrongful death claim against the deputy, the department, the city and any other people involved in the crash.
Source: NBC 7 San Diego, "Deputy Kills Pedestrian in 'Horrible' Crash," Brandi Powell and R. Stickney, Sept. 18, 2012