Salt Lake City, UT- Police suspect a Utah woman was drunk when she veered into oncoming traffic on Twentynine Palms Highway in Joshua Tree, California, killing one person and injuring three others
The California Highway Patrol believes Jennifer Zapata, 22, of Magna, Utah was intoxicated when she crossed over the center line of the highway a slammed head-on into vehicle driven by Christopher Matthews, the Desert Sun reported.
Matthews was traveling east on Twentynine Palms Highway with his wife and one-year old daughter when Zapata’s eastbound vehicle lost control and veered into their lane. Zapata’s Hyuandai and struck the family’s Mazda 6 around 6:45 p.m.
Matthews, a service member based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, survived as did, his wife and daughter. They were all taken to Deseret Hospital, but, on Tuesday, Matthews his wife, Angela finally succumbed to her injuries.
Zapata and her passenger a 20 year-old passenger, Evelyn Martinez, suffered serious injuries and were taken to Loma Linda University Hospital for treatment. Both women are from Utah.
“Everyone’s injuries were pretty severe,” Joan Griffin, a spokeswoman for the CHP told the Deseret News.
Zapata was arrested after following the accident on suspicion of driving under the influence causing injury. She has since been released from custody due to her injuries.
“The officer had reason to believe she was drinking at the time,” Griffin said, but added that the investigation is ongoing.
Twentynine Palms Highway was closed in both directions for a couple of hours while the accident was investigated and debris was cleared.
The Desert News pointed out that this is the second Twentynine Palms Marine to be involved in a fatal accident.
Earlier this month Cpl. Elmer VanHoorebeke Jr., 27, was killed in a two-motorcycle collision. He was riding his Yamaha sport bike when he collided with a woman on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. They were both pronounced dead on the scene.
Victims of drunken driving accidents often suffer serious injuries if they have the fortune of surviving. These accidents can especially dangerous because the drunken driver is typically committing other careless acts such as speeding or running a red light. It is often easy for an accident attorney to prove the drunken driver was negligent and secure a favorable settlement for the victims and their families.
The loved ones of fatal accident victims have the expectation that the responsible party will pay for their medical and funeral expenses along with any property damages. Even though accident settlements are often paid for by the negligent driver’s insurance companies, accident victims and their families should always consult with a wrongful death or personal injury attorney before agreeing to any settlement amount they initially receive. An accident attorney can anticipate the total costs of an accident victim’s injuries and will guide them on whether to take a settlement of hold-out for a better payout.
Car accident and drunken driving accident victims who have legal representation are able to obtain settlements that are typically two to three times larger than victims who have decide to pursue and injury claim on their own.

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