Caltrans not at fault in Coble children’s deadly crash
SANTA ANA A jury on Wednesday determined that Caltrans was not at fault in the fiery 2007 crash that left three Ladera Ranch children dead after the minivan they were in was struck from behind by a big-rig.
On May 4, 2007, Lori Coble was stopped in the slow lane of southbound I-5 between La Paz Road and Oso Parkway when a big-rig driven by Jorge Miguel Romero slammed into the back of the minivan Coble was driving. Lori and Chris Coble’s three children Kyle, 5, Emma, 4, and Katie, 2 were killed.
Attorney Jeoffrey Robinson, representing the Cobles, argued that faulty design by Caltrans of that stretch of freeway led to a backup on the I-5, which led to the accident. He characterized the state agency’s actions as negligent.
Robinson had been seeking damages to compensate the Cobles for losses as a result of a dangerous condition on public property owned by Caltrans.
Karen Bilotti, who represents Caltrans, laid the blame on the truck driver, Romero. He was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in 2008 and sentenced to 364 days in jail and five years’ probation.
Romero, Bilotti said, knew traffic was slowing, made a decision to change lanes and never hit the brakes.
Bilotti also argued that the state can’t be held accountable for traffic congestion and traffic-related accidents because the state can’t control those factors.
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