There are times in our community when tragedy strikes and we all feel it. The horrific limo fire and loss of life on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge last week is felt by many across the Bay Area. So much so that the California Highway Patrol has asked that the public mourn in ways other than placing memorials on the bridge where the accident happened. This itself presents a road hazard that could lead to more injuries and accidents.
In our work as California injury and wrongful death lawyers, we have counseled many families after serious and fatal injuries have occurred. The family and friends of those killed and hurt in this tragedy will have a very long road ahead to deal with the scope of what has happened.
There were nine women in the limo as it traveled on the bridge. Smoke apparently began in the back of the limo and some of the women attempted to get the driver’s attention about it. He misunderstood and then realized that there was smoke in the back of the vehicle. He pulled over, but the situation worsened quickly and the smoke quickly turned to fire. Only four of the women were able to get out of the limo and survived this terrible accident. The other five were not able to leave the vehicle.
Part of the reason this accident has reached the hearts of so many is that the victims were on their way to a bridal party. Another victim was recently married. Eight of them were nurses. This particular limo was licensed to carry eight passengers, not nine. This could well become a problem for the limo company in the aftermath of this horrific situation.
From tragedy could come some change. The accident will likely cause reform in the limo industry and perhaps even laws and regulations to improve safety. The accident is currently under investigation, but something went terribly wrong to cause such a horrific fire. Some speculate that the cause related to a short in the electrical system.
The California Highway Patrol and the California Public Utilities Commission have jurisdiction over the regulation of transportation firms. We know that the 1999 Lincoln Town Car was not required to carry a fire extinguisher and it is now anticipated that State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) will introduce a bill to make it mandatory that limousines have fire extinguishers.