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Wrongful death suit filed by family of bicyclist killed

December 22, 2010 1:41:45 PM PST
The family of a woman fatally struck by a big-rig while riding her bicycle in unincorporated Portola Valley last month has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in San Mateo County Superior Court against the driver and the trucking company he works for.

Lauren Ward was riding her bicycle west on Alpine Road near Highway 280 at about 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 4 when she was hit by an 18-wheeler and got trapped under the big-rig, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP released a report Monday that found the driver of the big-rig, Gabriel Manzur Vera, was not at fault in the case, but noted he had also been involved in two prior collisions that ended in fatalities. He was not found at fault in either of those cases too.

A separate investigative team, hired by Ward's family and the San Francisco-based law firm Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & McGuinn, disagrees with the report's finding, according to lawyer John Feder.

As a result, Feder filed the suit later Monday on behalf of Ward's husband and two children against Vera and Randazzo Enterprises Inc., the Castroville-based company that owns the big-rig.

"While the CHP was conducting its investigation, we brought in scientists and other experts to evaluate the circumstances surrounding Lauren's tragic death, and the team disagrees with the CHP's conclusions as to the cause," Feder said in a statement.

The family "would like a jury to hear the evidence and decide," he said.

Officials with Randazzo Enterprises were not immediately available for comment.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is encouraged to contact the Redwood City area CHP at (650) 369-6261 or the law office at (415) 398-5398.

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