4 motorcyclists’ death led to arrest of Mr. Ramirez, alleged DUI driver after a remote desert highway accident. The San Diego county drunk driving arrest was made when officers smelled alcohol on his breath about five hours after the crash, lawyers are told.
Did the driver’s alleged alcohol consumption contribute to the collision? Interestlingly, the man was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI and is not being held responsible for the deaths based on evidence to date.
Authorities were looking for the driver of a gold Honda Civic who forced Ramirez off the road when trying to pass the motorcyclists on the undivided two-lane highway east of San Diego.
Ramirez, of Mexicali, Mexico, swerved his white Dodge Avenger to the right shoulder to avoid the Honda and then overcompensated by swinging left into oncoming traffic, Goudie said. Ramirez’s speedometer was found stuck at 60 mph, 5 mph below the speed limit.
None of the motorcyclists got the license plate of the Honda driver – described as a man wearing a baseball cap. No one pursued him, choosing to stay behind to attend to their friends.
The CHP withheld names of the five who died, pending notification of next of kin. They included a husband and wife who were on a motorcycle that was first to be struck.
A man who was driving a motorcycle behind the couple was struck next and died, Goudie said.
Ramirez turned and hit a third motorcycle, killing a woman who was riding on the back and injuring her husband, Wilson Trayer, 39, of Lakeside, Goudie said.
Trayer’s motorcycle sliced 18 inches into the front passenger door of the Dodge that Ramirez was driving, killing Ramirez’s companion, a 31-year-old Mexicali woman who owned the car, Goudie said.
Carl Smith, president of the Lakeside-based Saddletramps Motorcycle Club, said three riders were seriously injured but expected to survive. Two others had less serious injuries.
William Barnes of San Diego suffered a punctured lung and broken hip and ankle and his wife, Melanie, broke her pelvis and had a brain hemorrhage, Smith said. Trayer broke his pelvis, ribs, back and jaw, according to his daughter, Sierra. Smith doesn’t blame Ramirez, despite the allegation that he was driving under the influence. He considers Ramirez a victim because his companion died.
“It looked like he overreacted, but the guy in the Honda Civic was at fault,” said Smith, who estimated the Civic was going 95 mph when it passed the motorcycles.