Video evidence puts lie to truck driver Jose Rivas’ claim to authorities that Elpidia Willie was the one who ran a red light. The video, provided by the bus following Mrs. Willie, shows Rivas running a red light and plowing into Willie’s vehicle. He is set to face trial on October 10, 2017.
Los Angeles, California – August 24, 2017 – A tanker truck driver will face criminal charges for his role in a 2016 truck crash in Rosemead, California that killed Elpidia Maria Willie, a loving wife, mother and grandmother. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven P. Sanora set a trial date of October 10, 2017, for 41-year-old truck driver Jose Anibar Rivas, who police say ran a red light and slammed into Willie’s passenger vehicle. In his post-crash statement to police, Rivas stated he had never driven a truck “until four months ago.”
Following the tragic loss of the matriarch of their family, the Willie family maintained a desire for privacy as they mourned, quietly allowing the justice system to play out its role. However, as more details of the crash that killed Mrs. Willie came to light, the family found it hard to remain silent in the face of negligence on the part of Mr. Rivas and his employer, Western Imperial Products Inc.
“Our mother was the rock of our family…we feel her absence from our lives every single day,” says Gaby Navarro, one of Elpidia Willie’s three children. “Our family wants the truck driver and his employer to understand the depth of our loss; that over a year later, we are still devastated. More than anything, we want them to be held responsible for taking our mother’s life. We want justice.”
Elpidia Willie, 60, left behind her husband Louie (married for 36 years), three beautiful daughters, Gabriella Navarro, Joanna Willie and Andrea Willie, and numerous grandchildren and extended family.
The Willie family retained the Los Angeles-based law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman to file a truck accident lawsuit against Rivas and Imperial, alleging both parties’ negligence caused the death of Elpidia Willie.
“This man should never have been behind the wheel of this tanker,” said a Baum Hedlund attorney. “He told the police after the accident that he didn’t have experience driving a truck of that size and it is apparent from his actions that he hadn’t received proper training. His decisions behind the wheel and his employer’s failure to properly train him tragically took the life of a loving wife, mother and grandmother. Sadly, if the driver and Western Imperial will not take full responsibility for this tragedy, the family must ask a jury to hold them accountable.”
Truck Driver Ran Red Light Before the Fatal Truck Crash
At approximately 5:00 p.m. on June 27, 2016, Elpidia Willie was helping her daughter out – something she routinely did for her family. Mrs. Willie was driving her 2001 Hyundai Elantra to pick up her granddaughter from school as she did every school day.
As she drove reasonably and carefully northbound on San Gabriel Boulevard, Mrs. Willie applied the brakes as she approached the intersection with Potrero Grande Drive, because the traffic light was red.
While she was in the process of braking, her traffic light turned green so she took her foot off the brake and proceeded forward toward the intersection. By the time Mrs. Willie entered the intersection, the northbound traffic light had been green for approximately four seconds.
At around the same time, Jose Anibar Rivas was driving eastbound on Potrero Grande Drive in a Sterling tanker truck, transporting approximately 1,800 gallons of cooking oil on behalf of Imperial Western Products, Inc.
Still quite a distance away from the intersection with San Gabriel Boulevard, Rivas may have seen a green light that had remained green for some time. A reasonable and safe commercial truck driver is trained to react to such a stale green light by slowing and preparing to stop in anticipation of the light changing to yellow.
Rivas did not slow down. Instead, he continued to drive at a high rate of speed toward the intersection. Even as the light changed from green to yellow and remained yellow for up to five seconds and then turned red and remained red for several more seconds, he continued to drive at a high rate of speed into the intersection without braking.
Rivas’ truck entered the intersection and slammed broadside into Mrs. Willie’s vehicle. The force of the crash propelled Mrs. Willie’s vehicle across the entire intersection and into a concrete light pole on the far side of Potrero Grande Drive. Mrs. Willie, a mother of three and a grandmother, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Video Puts the Lie to Any Claim the Truck Didn’t Run the Red Light Regarding the Rosemead Truck Accident
The entire tragic incident unfolded before witnesses who told authorities that Rivas ran a red light at the intersection. A Montebello Bus Lines municipal bus driving behind Mrs. Willie’s vehicle was equipped with a surveillance camera, which captured the full event.
The video shows Rivas enter the intersection on a red light, well after the light had turned green for Mrs. Willie. In fact, it appears that Rivas did not even attempt to brake or slow down as he entered the intersection.
In his police statement, Rivas pointed the finger at Mrs. Willie by falsely claiming that she ran a red light and that she was speeding. However, following a review of the investigation, statements by eyewitnesses and the images from the surveillance video footage of the accident, liability for the truck crash is unquestionable.
According to the Temple City Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol’s findings, Rivas caused the collision by driving against a red light, a violation of Vehicle Code §21453, which provides, in part: “(a) A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line . . .”
About Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman
The Baum Hedlund law firm has represented countless victims and their families in lawsuits arising from a wide variety of transportation accidents in California and across the nation. The firm has successfully handled thousands of cases and secured over $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients in all its areas of practice, including truck accidents.*
*Past results do not guarantee future outcomes.