Rosen Saba, LLP and Law Offices of Robert P. Karwin, filed a lawsuit in Riverside Superior Court against the City of Hemet for negligence and failure to address a known, dangerous intersection, resulting in a car colliding with 16-year-old Nicholas Tusant and causing him severe and life-altering injuries. The intersection had a history of accidents, including one in February 2012, where three students were hit by a car and hospitalized. The crosswalk was upgraded shortly thereafter with flashing lights and embedded ground lights, but unfortunately, did not address the crux of the issue – the need to slow down traffic. As a result of the City failing to take proper safety precautions, such as installing a traffic signal, Tusant suffered multiple injuries, including a stroke, brain damage and bone fractures.
“People have compared this intersection to a ‘real-life game of Frogger,’ and the City of Hemet has simply put a bandage on it,” said attorney Ryan Saba. “Adding flashing lights and signs has lulled pedestrians into a false sense of security at an intersection that continues to be fundamentally dangerous. The City tried to save money by not installing a lighted signal which would have protected the hundreds of students that cross that street every day.”
Attorney Robert Karwin added, “Nick was on his way to school and should never have been caught in the crosshairs of a preventable accident like this. Installing a traffic signal in the correct location could have saved Nick from the enormous pain and suffering he is currently enduring, and we are advocating for stronger safety for these students.”
The intersection at Mustang Way and Morgan Hill Road is known for being dangerous due to heavy vehicle traffic, as well as foot traffic stemming from the adjacent West Valley High School. Although a legal crossing, it did not have any other features of a crossing, such as crossing lines or flashing lights.
In February 2012, three high school students were hit at the intersection and hospitalized, prompting the City of Hemet to conduct a traffic study two months later. As a result of the study, the City installed a lighted crosswalk, instead of a traffic signal in the correct location.
By December 2012, additional signs, handicap access ramps, in-pavement flashing lights and two sets of push-button activators were installed at the intersection. Unfortunately, the new features did not fundamentally change, or slow down, the traffic pattern.
In March 2017, Tusant, a junior at West Valley High School, was heading to an early morning chemistry class around 6:30 am. He was legally crossing Mustang Way when he was struck by a Dodge Dakota truck driven by Joseph Gervais. Emergency responders found Tusant unconscious in the street and airlifted him to a trauma center. As a result of the incident, Tusant suffered serious injuries, including severe brain damage, a stroke and bone fractures.
Saba and Karwin argue that the crossing features the City installed were completely wrong for the amount and speed of traffic at that location. They are seeking a jury trial and damages for negligence and the dangerous condition of a public property.