Gilberto Sotelo, 38, Father of Seven, Died In Hit-And-Run Collision With Texas Police Officer on Interstate 215
LAKE ELSINORE, CALIFORNIA (November 5, 2023) - A father of 7 identified as Gilberto Sotelo has tragically died in a Lake Elsinore hit-and-run car accident along Interstate 215.
Riverside County officials are saying that the accident took place on Monday. A 31-year-old Texas police officer identified as Giovanni Ceja allegedly hit Gilberto Sotelo and then fled the scene of the collision.
The victim pulled over after his pickup truck ran out of gasoline prior to the collision. Paramedics were called to the scene and performed life-saving measures. But Gilberto Sotelo was pronounced dead at the scene.
Giovanni Ceja was a veteran of the Bexar County Sheriff's Department. He has since been charged with second-degree murder and hit-and-run.
A full investigation into the incident remains ongoing at this time. You can help support the family of Gilberto Sotelo through Go Fund Me.
Liability For Lake Elsinore Hit-And-Run Car Accidents
Car accidents remain one of the leading causes of serious injury and death in the United States. Pedestrians lack the protection of enclosed vehicles. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Nearly 8,000 pedestrians were killed on our nation’s roads in crashes involving a motor vehicle in 2021. That’s about one death every 66 minutes.1 One in six people who died in crashes in 2021 were pedestrians.” There are many factors that could contribute to a pedestrian accident.
- Pedestrian collisions are more likely to occur at night and during periods of inclement weather.
- Pedestrian collisions are much more likely to occur at intersections.
- Pedestrian collisions are more likely to occur when drivers are distracted.
All drivers have a legal obligation to exercise due care in order to avoid hitting pedestrians. Pursuant to California Vehicle Code 21950, the driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise all due care to avoid hitting any pedestrian in the roadway. To that end, drivers must reduce their speed and use their horn when necessary to alert pedestrians of their presence. If a driver fails to reduce their speed to avoid hitting a pedestrian, this could form the basis of a negligence claim.
Depending on the facts of any case, a police department could be liable for an accident involving one of their drivers. Police departments are typically liable for the wrongful actions of their employees - insofar as those employees were working within the course and scope of their job duties. Liability may apply even if a police officer was technically off-duty when a collision took place. It is important that evidence is properly preserved after any accident involving a police officer.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- Body camera footage from all officers involved should be sought.
- The nature of the police officer’s trip should be understood.
- A thorough investigation should be conducted.
The vast majority of pedestrian accidents are preventable and involve some amount of driver error. It is important that victims of car accidents and the families understand that they do have rights. The family of any person that died in a car accident with a police officer may have legal recourse through a wrongful death claim. A civil rights attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating Lake Elsinore Hit-And-Run Car Accidents
We at Scott H. Palmer, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of Gilberto Sotelo. Any person that may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. There needs to be some accountability for the sake of the victim’s family.
Do you need more information about a Lake Elsinore hit-and-run collision? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We are committed to helping accident victims understand their rights and holding police departments accountable for their negligence. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at 214-987-4100.