State Route 76

Lawsuit Alleges SR-76 Partially At Fault for Deadly Wrong-Way Crash

A widowed young mother is suing the state and its Department of Transportation, after her husband was killed in a wrong-way DUI crash on New Year's Day in 2019.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

In two months, a Camp Pendleton Marine will face trial for murder. Prosecutors say he was drunk behind the wheel, when he drove the wrong way on State Route 76 and killed a Navy veteran and young father of two.

Now, the victim's widow claims the state of California and the California Department of Transportation are also to blame.

NBC 7's Dave Summers reports from outside the Vista courthouse where a Marine will be arraigned on murder and DUI charges Friday in connection with the deadly crash.

A white cross still marks the spot along the highway where medics pronounced Navy veteran Chris Williams dead.

On New Year's Day of 2019, Marine private Adam Barooshian was drunk and driving east in the westbound lanes of SR-76 near Calle de la Vuelta when he crashed head-on into Williams -- killing him instantly -- according to prosecutors.

This week, almost exactly one year after the fatal collision, Williams' wife is suing Barooshian, the state and the Department of Transportation. The suit alleges SR-76 is a "dangerous” and “defective" “trap” for drivers, and that the state knew so before the deadly crash. Specifically, Williams' lawyer argues SR-76 has "inadequate and confusing signage," increasing the odds drivers will hop on the freeway in the wrong direction with no safe way to reverse course.

A recent NBC 7 investigation revealed SR-76 had the second-highest fatal crash rate in the county, with 74 fatal accidents between 2008 and 2018.

NBC 7 Investigates dug deep to determine which freeway in San Diego was the deadliest and why.

NBC 7 reached out to Caltrans for a response, but a spokesman said "due to pending litigation Caltrans is unable to comment."

No state or federal law specifically prohibits any person or institution from commenting publicly whilst facing a civil lawsuit. In fact, both plaintiffs and defendants regularly agree to on-camera interviews.

Barooshian is still in jail. His murder trial is set to begin in March.

Contact Us