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Chico, Highway 99 - Suspected Drunken Driver Leaves Man, 27, Injured

On Wednesday May 14, 2014, officers from the California Highway Patrol were called to the scene of a two-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in Chico. The accident occurred at 2:15am on southbound Highway 99 north of Skyway. When responders arrived on the scene, they observed a man lying on the road just in front of a white Honda vehicle in the number two lane, and a Chevrolet pickup that had come to a stop on the right shoulder of the road. The injured man was later identified as Dallas James, 27, a resident of Auburn.

According to a news release from the Highway Patrol, James sustained two broken legs in the accident. James reportedly told investigators that he made a stop on the side of the highway to adjust a load he was carrying in the rear of his pickup truck and, as he was on the left side of the vehicle, was struck by the Honda and thrown forward into the highway.

The driver of the vehicle that struck James was subsequently identified as Anthony Morales, age 50, of Paradise. Morales, who was not injured, told CHP investigators that he was trying to exit off of Highway 99 at Skyway, and was proceeding to move over and take the exit when he observed James standing next to the pickup truck. According to Morales, he attempted to stop his vehicle, but was unable to before colliding with the rear of James’ pickup and hitting him.

Officers on the scene later arrested Morales on charges of suspicion of driving while under the influence and causing a traffic accident that resulted in great bodily injury.

Although, thankfully, this accident did not result in a fatality, the serious injury involved is just another example of the dangers we all face when sharing the roads with those who choose to risk our lives, and theirs, by driving while under the influence. A driver’s ability to effectively operate a vehicle can be affected with even as low as a .02% BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) in their body. Driving while under the influence first’ affects the mental functions, with reasoning and ability for caution the first to be reduced. Other areas affected with impaired drivers are vision and hearing activity, comprehension, concentration, coordination, and reaction time. All of these factors add up to a greatly increase potential for tragedy on our highways every time someone chooses to drive while under the influence.

Injuries like the one Mr. James sustained often require months or years of rehabilitation resulting in missed work and enormous medical bills. This not only affects the life of the injured, but the lives of the families and loved ones of the injured who depend on that person for their livelihood. The ramifications can be felt for years, and, all too often, permanently. In a matter of seconds, one person making that the decision to drive under the influence can change the lives of many people forever.