San Diego

Judge: City of San Diego Not Responsible in Fatal Crash at Chicano Park

A San Diego judge removed the city of San Diego from a lawsuit filed by a woman whose attorney argued city officials were responsible for protecting the public from vehicles driving off the Coronado Bridge into Chicano Park.

The lawsuit, filed by a victim in the October 15, 2016 crash of a pickup into a park filled with people, claimed the city allowed a car show to be scheduled for the park knowing that cars falling from the bridge overhead posed a threat to people below.

An active duty U.S. Navy sailor stationed in Coronado drove up the northbound Interstate 5 onramp at approximately 81 mph.

Prosecutors also said the sailor was on his phone texting before he veered off the ramp. The defense claims the pickup was forced off the road by another vehicle.

The pickup hit a guardrail and fell 60 feet into Chicano Park below, instantly killing four people at a festival: Cruz Elias Contreras, 52; AnnaMarie Contreras, 50; Andre Christopher Banks, 49; Francine Denise Jimenez, 46.

San Diego police said two people suffered major injuries and at least seven other people suffered minor injuries. 

One of the injured, Annette Trujillo, filed the complaint against the city.

On Friday, Superior Court Judge Judith F. Hayes dismissed the complaint against the City of San Diego because nothing the City did contributed to the incident, and the plaintiff did not allege that a physical condition of City property caused the incident or injury, according to the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. 

The driver, Richard Sepolio, is still named as a defendant in the case along with the State of California.

Sepolio has pleaded not guilty to four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence causing injury or death.

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison.

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