We at Kaire & Heffernan are avid cyclists, and that’s why we offered a law school scholarship to promote bike safety awareness.
Last summer, Gabriel Ybarra was slightly behind his friend as they crossed an intersection. The light was red for an oncoming driver, but it didn’t matter. The car, driven above the speed limit by a young woman, hit Gabriel’s friend…
“… the young teen hit my friend, tossing him towards the other side of the road,” said Gabriel. “I called 9-1-1 immediately and he was rushed to a nearby hospital. He died at the hospital several days later.”
The driver admitted she had been texting at the time of the accident.
Gabriel, who will be attending Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, still has difficulty getting back on the road. The psychological and emotional trauma remains.
There’s no chance to react or get out of the way, and the cyclist always loses these encounters. The answer has to come from driver awareness and strict enforcement of existing laws. Automobile drivers are notoriously sloppy about giving the right of way to cyclists. Many don’t understand the rules regarding bike lanes and too many simply aren’t looking out for bicycles.
At Kaire & Heffernan, LLC we advocated for getting the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act passed and signed into law. The legislation plugged a hole in Florida law which allowed drunk drivers who fled the scene of an accident to get a lower penalty than if they had stopped and rendered aid. A hit and run with no witnesses means no ambulance is called. The victim could remain on the side of the road without treatment unless someone notices them. The act was signed into law earlier this year by Governor Scott.
Gabriel has his Bachelor’s degree from California State University and intends to pursue a career in injury law. He has an excellent student record with a nearly perfect GPA. We expect him to become a successful lawyer and a strong advocate for bicycle safety. The $1,000 scholarship award will be paid to his school to help defray tuition costs.
“There are too many innocent lives put in jeopardy because of irresponsible drivers and it has got to stop,” wrote Gabriel. He says the accident motivates him, and he remembers his friend and the tragedy that took his life every day.
We would like to congratulate Gabriel and we wish him the best of luck in his legal career!