The family of a 14-year-old boy killed in a hit-and-run while he rode his bicycle to a friend's house has filed a lawsuit against the tow truck driver allegedly responsible and the city and county of Ventura that contracts with him, the family's attorney said on Wednesday.
Jonathan Hernandez was killed on Feb. 18 near Telegraph Road and North Saticoy Avenue in Ventura when a tow truck on its way to a service call hit him. A second vehicle hit him while he was on the ground, officials said. Jonathan was on his way to a friend's to celebrate his sister's 18th birthday who had recently died from Leukemia, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in Ventura Superior Court.
Surveillance video showed Jonathan had been riding through a red light, while the tow truck had a green light, police said in a news release at the time.
The tow truck driver, identified as Martin Henderson, the owner and operator of Double R, called police 18 hours after the hit-and-run crash, identifying himself as the first hit-and-run driver, court documents said. He was not arrested. Prosecutors are considering whether to file charges, his attorney said. No information was available about the second vehicle that hit Jonathan.
The lawsuit alleges that the city and county had a contract with Henderson and knew that he had a history of unsafe driving, "was unfit and unqualified to drive a tow truck, and posed an unreasonable risk of injury to others."
Sean Andrade, the family's attorney, said the offenses are for illegal lane change and failure to stop, but he believes they're serious enough to have kept him from driving for the city.
Henderson's attorney said he didn't know he hit Jonathan. He said he didn't see him or his bicycle before, during, or after the collision. He said it was dark, Jonathan's clothing was dark and his bike had no light. He wasn't speeding or texting, his attorney said.
"Unfortunately there was no way anyone could have prevented the accident, except Jonathan," Lehr said. "We feel horrible for Jonathan. We don't want to see a kid get hurt, let alone killed. Unfortunately Martin couldn't have avoided the crash."
The lawsuit alleges wrongful death, negligence, emotional distress, and willful misconduct.
"In addition to her grief at the death of her fourteen-year-old son, Joanna's emotional distress has been compounded by the knowledge that Jonathan was left to die and to lie dead in the road for hours like an animal," the lawsuit said.