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Tow Truck Runs Red Light in Los Angeles; Kills Bus Driver

A tow truck driver ran a red light in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, slamming into a bus and killing the bus driver.

The accident happened at about 5:15 a.m. at the intersection of Broadway and 5th St., in the Jewelry District in Los Angeles. The driver of a flatbed tow truck, who was southbound on Broadway, ran a red light, struck a Metro bus. The bus then sheared a fire hydrant, sending a geyser of water into the air, and slammed into a 7-Eleven store.

According to Los Angeles Police Department Sergeant Steve Dailey, a witness put the tow truck's speed at 60 mph. The speed limit is 30 mph. According to Dailey, cameras and witnesses captured the tow truck driver running a red light at 5th.

The crash caused the driver of the Metro bus, 47-year-old Olivia Gamboa, a Montebello resident, to be ejected from the bus. She was found face down in the water that was gushing from the hydrant. Witnesses rescued her from the water, and fire-rescue crew members revived her. The bus driver was transported to LA County USC Medical Center, where she later died. There were no passengers on the bus.

The driver of the tow truck, a 30-year-old male, suffered head trauma. He was trapped in this vehicle and had to be extricated by paramedics. The tow truck driver was transported to LA County/USC in serious condition.

A worker in the 7-Eleven store was also treated for injuries.

In this case, the family of the bus driver is certainly entitled to and should immediately demand payment of the tow truck driver's policy limit.

According to Gamboa's employer, the Metropolitan Transporation Authority, Gamboa had worked for Metro for 13 years. Her husband and daughter are also Metro bus drivers.

What is the tow truck driver's policy limit? California Vehicle Code section 34631.5(a) applies to operators of for-hire tow trucks. Under Section 34631.5(a), for-hire tow trucks must carry a liability policy limit of at least $750,000. Specifically, Section 34631.5(a) states:

"(1) Every motor carrier of property as defined in Section 34601, except those subject to paragraph (2), (3), or (4), shall provide and thereafter continue in effect adequate protection against liability imposed by law upon those carriers for the payment of damages in the amount of a combined single limit of not less than seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000) on account of bodily injuries to, or death of, one or more persons, or damage to or destruction of, property other than property being transported by the carrier for any shipper or consignee whether the property of one or more than one claimant in any one accident."

California Vehicle Code section 34631.5(a) establishes only the minimum liability requirement. The tow truck operator in this case could, and hopefully did, carry higher than the minimum state requirements.

If you or a family member has suffered injury or death as the result of the negligence of another, you should speak with a personal injury attorney to learn about your rights. The attorneys at McGee, Lerer & Associates are a husband and wife team of injury lawyers who specialize in serious injury and wrongful death claims. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation. We have four office locations to serve our clients: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Long Beach.