A passenger involved in a 2011 fatal crash on Highway 101 is suing the driver of the vehicle carrying her and the victim, another driver once criminally charged with causing the death because he was intoxicated and the motorist whose blown tire is thought to have started the collision.
Denise Bravo, whose fellow passenger Andrel Norcel Gaines, 19, died in the crash, is seeking damages and reimbursement of medical expenses for injuries to her back and nervous system, shock and mental suffering, according to a lawsuit filed Oct. 10 in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Bravo’s suit names Mauricio Centino, Leonardo Lazo, Jerry Struthers, Razeleyn Ambrocio, Billy Ray Heard, Dennis Dallas Leffew Jr. and 10 unnamed people who may be involved. The individuals represent the drivers and owners of the vehicles involved in the Nov. 6, 2011 collision on Highway 101 just before the Millbrae Avenue exit.
Bravo and Gaines were two of four passengers in a 2003 Cadillac driven by Billy Ray Heard, and traveling south from a night out in San Francisco.
The Chevrolet Tahoe driven by Lazo lost a tire which stopped in one southbound lane and Heard swerved to miss it, colliding with the center divider and stopping in the middle lane. Bravo’s lawsuit cites both drivers and owners with “negligently and carelessly” maintaining and operating their respective vehicles which led to the respective road hazard and collision.
Minutes later, prosecutors said Leffew crashed his Nissan 300ZX into the car, pushing it down the highway for a distance. The Cadillac’s passengers received various injuries but Gaines suffered a traumatic head injury and remained on life support until Nov. 18, 2011 when he was removed.
Bravo, who was seated in the Cadillac’s front seat, was injured in “her health, strength and activity,” the suit states.
While Leffew was hospitalized with his own injuries, a blood sample placed his blood alcohol level at .12 percent. He was charged with Gaines’ death the following March but the Cadillac’s initial collision complicated the case. An accident reconstruction specialist hired by his defense found that even a sober driver could not have avoided the accident and prosecutors dropped his gross vehicle manslaughter charge to one of misdemeanor driving while under the influence. He received time served.
In 2012, Heard also sued Leffew, Tahoe driver Lazo and owner Centeno, and the state Department of Transportation for allegedly keeping dangerous condition of public property. The suit against the state was dismissed earlier this year. Leffew also sued the state, Centeno and Lazo but that case was also dismissed.
In his compensation claim to the state and subsequent lawsuit, Heard stated the crash caused him severe brain damage and bleeding and facial, pelvic and wrist fractures. He sought reimbursement of his current medical expenses, then totaling more than $270,000, and future costs estimated to pass more than a half-million dollars.
Bravo likewise is looking to the future in her suit, specifically seeking a judgment for ongoing care and loss of earnings and impairment of earning capacity.
A case management conference is scheduled for Feb. 6.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102