The family of a 25-year-old man killed in a crash while riding a motorcycle near Bixby Knolls last year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Long Beach and two local businesses.
On Oct. 24, 2021, Alejandro Vasquez was traveling southbound on Cherry Avenue, through a service road, when police say he ran through a stop sign at East Bixby Road.
That’s when the driver of an SUV going northbound on Cherry Avenue made a left turn onto East Bixby Road and collided with Vasquez, who died at the scene from “significant injuries,” authorities said.
The driver of the SUV stayed at the scene and cooperated with police, and neither distracted driving nor impaired driving was believed to be a factor in the collision, police said at the time of the crash last year.
Nearly six months later, The Wallace Firm, which filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in Long Beach Superior Court on behalf of the Vasquez family, received a collision report from authorities with new details on the crash, attorney Brad Wallace said.
The report, Wallace said, revealed a Ford box truck was parked near a driveway, along the west curb line of Shelby’s Car Stereo and Alarms, which possibly blocked the view of the stop sign where police said Vasquez “failed to stop” before colliding with the SUV.
The truck, Wallace added, was unregistered and owned by Caruso Ford Lincoln, which had contracted Shelby’s Car Stereo and Alarms to install dash cameras.
Caruso Ford Lincoln and Shelby’s Car Stereo and Alarms are the two businesses named in the lawsuit. A representative for Shelby’s Car Stereo and Alarms said the company wasn’t aware of any lawsuit until contacted by the Post, so the company couldn’t comment. Representatives from Caruso Ford Lincoln and Ford Motor Company, which owns the business, did not respond to requests for comment.
In addition to the obstructed stop sign, Wallace said the placement of the southbound traffic signals at Cherry Avenue and East Bixby Road intersection creates a “trap” for drivers going southbound because, although a stop sign is in place, there is also a traffic signal that when turned green, makes drivers believe they are allowed to enter the intersection along with all southbound traffic.
“The businesses’ negligently parked box truck completely obstructed Vasquez’s view of the approaching stop sign at a Long Beach intersection, causing him to proceed on a green light where he collided with an oncoming car making a left turn,” according to a press release from The Wallace Firm. “The City was also negligent in allowing dangerous driving conditions near the intersection due to inadequate and improper signage, warnings or other devices.”
The Long Beach City Attorney’s Office said it hasn’t been served with the complaint yet, therefore the office can’t speak to the allegations or the litigation process at this time.
In April, Vasquez’s family filed a government claim to the city of Long Beach, but it was rejected. Now, with the lawsuit, Wallace said the Vasquez family is willing to negotiate with Long Beach, Shelby’s Car Stereo and Alarm and Caruso Ford Lincoln to reach a settlement.
But if that doesn’t happen, Wallace said he is seeking to go to a trial by jury, where the family will be seeking “millions of dollars” in compensation.
“These are the kinds of cases that warrant significant financial compensation to really make sure that the scope of the loss is taken into account when the case is settled,” Wallace said. “The big driving force in the family of the victim pursuing this is that they don’t want any other family to go through what they have been through.”
A report by the California Highway Patrol that Wallace shared with the Post showed that from 2011 through April 14 of this year, there were 84 crashes, including Vazquez’s, in the same area. Of the 84 crashes, 34 were categorized as broadsides and nine were identified as sideswipes.