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Family of crash victim sues driver, city

Lawsuit also names as defendant a separate motorist, alleging he might have been speeding with the other car before the collision on Laguna Canyon Road.

February 13, 2014|By Bryce Alderton
  • Alberto Casique, 47, of Anaheim, and Armando Gonzalez, 38, of Santa Ana, were killed when they were struck head-on by a Tesla on Laguna Canyon Road in April.
Alberto Casique, 47, of Anaheim, and Armando Gonzalez,… (Laguna Beach Police…)

An attorney for the family of one of two men killed in a head-on collision on Laguna Canyon Road has sued a driver who survived the wreck, a witness and multiple cities and public agencies.

Attorney Otto Haselhoff, who represents the family of Alberto Casique, levels allegations ranging from driver negligence to poor road maintenance in his Jan. 21 Orange County Superior Court lawsuit.

Among the defendants is Robert McFarland Pettis, 48, a Laguna Beach physician whose Tesla Model S sedan collided with the Honda Accord sedan driven by Casique, 47, at 6:45 a.m. April 2. Armando Gonzalez, 38, a passenger in Casique's Honda, also died.

Pettis faces two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one felony count of driving the wrong way on a divided highway, causing death. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a March 13 pretrial hearing.

Casique and Gonzalez, who lived in Anaheim and Santa Ana, respectively, were headed south on the state-operated highway when Pettis allegedly veered his Model S Tesla into oncoming traffic and hit the Accord, killing both men at the scene.

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An attorney representing Pettis could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit also names as a defendant Dekker Nolan McKeever, who was driving a Mercedes.

Haselhoff alleges Pettis and McKeever may have been speeding alongside each other before the wreck, some 200 feet north of the El Toro Road-Laguna Canyon Road intersection.

Despite the lawsuit's allegations, McKeever is listed only as a witness in the police report and authorities did not seek charges against him, Laguna Beach police Sgt. Louise Callus said in an email.

McKeever did not return two calls seeking comment.

In addition to Pettis and McKeever, the lawsuit names as defendants several public agencies, including the cities of Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel and Irvine, the Laguna Beach County Water District and Caltrans.

Haselhoff, whose practice is in Santa Monica, claims the government entities are partly responsible for the collision based on Laguna Canyon Road's condition and signage.

The road is maintained by Caltrans, but the lawsuit does not single out which government agencies are considered negligent for what specific alleged problems. Instead they are grouped together.

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