Suspected Drunk Driver Kills Elderly Couple in Valley Center

Is it safe to be a pedestrian in busy urban areas? Earlier this month, an elderly couple died in a tragic accident in Valley Center when a suspected drunk driver hit them, according to a report in UT San Diego. Pedestrian accidents occur much more often than we’d like to think, and it’s important to know how to be safe while walking on our busy roads.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California is among the top states when it comes to pedestrian fatalities. If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident case, it’s important to speak to an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. In California, there’s a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident, and you’ll need to file before then in order to be eligible for compensation. Contact us today to discuss your claim.

Details of the Valley Center Accident

On Sunday, a couple in their late 70s died when Earl Smith Jr., 20, of Oceanside, crashed into them in his 2011 Toyota Corolla. The couple had been walking eastbound on Old Castle Road near Mauka Drive when Smith’s vehicle hit them. According to the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Smith was arrested at the scene of the crash. The CHP took him to the Vista detention center, where they booked him on “suspicion of felony driving under the influence of alcohol and vehicular manslaughter.” The accident occurred at 6:15 a.m., and the CHP reports that the investigation remains open.

While the CHP hasn’t released the identities of the victims, the CHP did describe them as a 79-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman. Neighbors in the area knew the couple as “Mr. and Mrs. Ackermann,” and UT San Diego reported that the couple “walked in the mornings holding hands in Valley Center.” The neighbors were shocked to learn that the couple had been killed, noting that “their walking ritual had endeared them to the community.”


Michael Dodge, who has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, reminisced about the couple’s walking routine. He said, “I didn’t know them personally, but everyone knew them. I think everyone is in shock. The first thing that I could think of was that they probably died doing the same thing they did every day—holding hands.”

This pedestrian accident is especially tragic, and unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon occurrence on Old Castle Road. The area is heavily driven by people headed to the local casinos, and Dodge described the road as “an accident hotspot.”

Pedestrian Safety Tips

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pedestrians are among the most vulnerable users of our roadways. A pedestrian is anyone who travels by foot, wheelchair, stroller, or similar means. In 2010 alone, more than 4,200 pedestrians were killed, and 70,000 were injured. Do you know how to stay safe? Here are some key tips from the CDC:

· Always cross at a designated crosswalk.
· Always walk on a sidewalk where possible, but if you have to walk in the streets, always walk facing traffic.
· Be especially careful when you’re at an intersection—drivers can fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians when they’re turning onto a different road.
· Make yourself visible by wearing retro-reflective clothing and carrying a flashlight at night.

Pedestrian accidents can be scary and upsetting for victims and their loved ones. If you have been injured, you may be eligible for compensation. A pedestrian accident lawyer can discuss your claim with you today.

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

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