Biketoberfest suffered a horrible loss Friday night when a Jeep Cherokee driven by Joshua Baldes, 27, crashed into three motorcycles driven by Biketoberfest riders. Baldes survived and was later apprehended by police shortly after he allegedly fled the scene of the accident.
The victims of this horrific crash are: Grace Scullion, 22, Jeramy Scarsella, 22, Shawn Scarsella, 24, Michelle Koelker 22, and Brandon Rudolph, 24.
This motorcycle accident is especially tragic because Grace Scullion was 4 weeks pregnant when she was killed by Baldes' Jeep.
Jeramy Scarsella, the driver of Grace's motorcycle, suffered serious internal injuries and broken bones. Shawn Scarsella suffered a broken hand and Michelle Koelker suffered broken ribs. It is unknown what injuries, if any, were suffered by Brandon Rudolph.
According to police, Joshua Baldes has been charged with vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident with death, leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury, and violation of probation. It is unknown what he was on probation for or what criminal history he may have. I wonder if his criminal history is related to drugs, alcohol, or even DUI.
While I do not own or ride motorcycles, I am an avid cyclist. I have a high-end road bike that I love to ride outdoors for fun, recreation, and exercise.
It is because of my love of riding, that I especially sympathize with the victims in this case even more so than normal.
I have to say, I am sick and tired of the maniac drivers that populate our roadways. As a cyclist, I fear those oblivious, reckless, and impaired drivers we all see on the road from time to time. It is scary and it makes you wonder what people are thinking as they text away in their cars or drive so slow and aimlessly that they miss red lights and stop signs as the yap away on their cell phones.
Enough is enough. I would love to represent Grace Scullion's family and the other victims to fight this case and get them the justice they deserve!
I hope the families of these young people, especially Grace Scullion's family, hire an attorney who will stand up to drivers like Joshua Baldes and fight their cause.
However, before final conclusions about who caused this crash can be made, a full investigation into the facts is warranted.
To win their case against Joshua Baldes, Grace Scullion and the other motorcyclists will need to prove that Baldes was negligent and caused the accident.
According news reports, a police officer happened to be standing about 300 feet away from the intersection where the accident occurred and was able to see the whole thing. Police have also reported that Baldes admitted to causing the accident once he was apprehended.
Police further claim that Baldes smelled of alcohol and admitted that he fled the scene because he had been drinking and was on probation.
In Florida courts, statements like those made by Baldes are admissible in trial. There is no doubt that Baldes is in for a difficult future that will certainly include prison time.
As a trial lawyer who handles cases like these, I am confidant that Scullion and the others will be able to recover the full policy limits of any auto insurance policy Baldes may have.
While this may be true, people like Baldes often times only carry the minimum level of insurance. Getting compensation in cases like these is often times difficult.
Scullion and the other motorcyclists would be well served by hiring an attorney to represent them and fight their cause. This includes representing their interests as victims of crime in the criminal prosecution that is certain to unfold against Baldes.
Since this case involves police eye-witnesses, admissions made to police while in custody, a police crash investigation, as well as very serious criminal charges, Scullion and the others would be best served by hiring an attorney with extensive experience in criminal law and police investigations, especially traffic homicide investigations.
Not all lawyers are created equal. Understanding how the system works and having the specific type of experience needed to win any one case is crucial.
The victims in this case must also consider the possibility that another party other than Baldes may be liable. For example, what if the intersection in question was designed in such a way that caused or contributed to car accidents? The actual design of the intersection may have also been a contributing factor. For instance, wouldn't it be interesting to know how many other accidents occurred at that intersection? What would you think if we learned that this particular intersection had an abnormal amount of accidents that was above and beyond other intersections in that community.
Baldes my have been the driver who caused the accident and he may have fled the scene, but what caused him to act as he did? Even if alcohol was a factor, was it the only factor?
For instance, did his vehicle malfunction? Did his Jeep contain a latent defect, such as defective brakes, that either caused or contributed to the accident? Was his vehicle recently repaired by a mechanic who did sloppy work?
What about other vehicles or pedestrians? Were there any other intervening causes? Who else is responsible for this tragic outcome?
I am not trying to defend Baldes or minimize his actions in any way. Rather, I am trying to identify any and all contributors to this horrible accident. If any other person, entity, or factor can be proven to have contributed to this accident, they may be responsible to Grace Scullion and the other motorcyclists for damages.
This is important because Baldes himself may not have any means to compensate Scullion or the other motorcyclists for their injuries.
A good trial lawyer assumes nothing. Every detail must be analyzed from start to finish and without bias.
Regardless, I hope Baldes gets the justice he deserves and the family of Grace Scullion gets the full amount of compensation that they are entitled to. While no amount of money will ever replace Grace or her unborn child, her family is still entitled to compensation.
Hopefully the other riders, Jeramy Scarsella, Shawn Scarsella, Michelle Koelker, and Brandon Rudolph will have a speedy recovery and avoid any long term disability. Like Scullion, they too deserve compensation and should not be forced to live the rest of their lives with injuries that limit their ability to earn an income, enjoy life, or otherwise live normally.
As an avid cyclist myself, I hope that motorists learn a lesson from this case. Pay attention and drive safely! The roadways belong to all of us and no one person has the right to make them a dangerous place.