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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / CAMARILLO

Family Sues Over Man's Death in Crash

June 20, 1998|HILARY E. MacGREGOR

The family of a man who was crushed to death in his pickup truck by a tractor-trailer truck on the Conejo Grade has filed a lawsuit in a Ventura County court.

Ismael Valencia Chaidez was killed Feb. 16 when a U-Rent Inc. tractor-trailer truck loaded with a 30,000-pound bulldozer ran into him, pushing his pickup into an embankment on the northbound Ventura Freeway in Camarillo, authorities said.

Chaidez's family is suing Camarillo-based U-Rent Inc., and its directors Robert and June Arbon for damages. They also are suing Camarillo resident James Greene, the driver of the truck.

According to the family's lawyers, the truck owners knew three days before the accident that Greene did not possess a license to operate commercial vehicles equipped with air brakes.

The attorneys allege that the Arbons directed Greene to drive the truck on President's Day, when they knew the truck inspection station at the top of the Conejo Grade was closed.

The attorneys also allege that the truck violated numerous codes. They charge that the brakes were misaligned and rusty, and that the tire treads were worn out.

"This is an accident that did not have to occur," said Paul Stansen, one of the lawyers.

"If the owners of U-Rent Inc., the Arbons and the driver, Mr. Greene, had all lived up to their moral and statutory responsibilities to assure the public that they could maintain and operate these dangerous vehicles on the public roadways, Ish Chaidez would not now be dead."

Accident-scene photos show hundreds of feet of black skid marks smeared across the road up to the point where Chaidez's pickup truck eventually came to rest.

The Arbons expressed regret that it had come to this.

"Since this accident we really have been concerned about the family and their well-being," Robert Arbon said. "We had hoped that this matter could have been resolved sooner."

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