Family of Santa Cruz Man Killed on Highway 17 Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A Santa Cruz family filed a wrongful death lawsuit this week after their son died in a crash on Highway 17.

The suit targets three trucking companies, a construction firm, and a truck owner who was involved in the crash, and it calls for stricter safety regulations in the trucking industry.

A big-rig driver hauling two tons of dirt lost control on July 10 while driving north on Highway 17 near Lexington Reservoir. The driver crashed into 10 vehicles, killing Daniel McGuire, 25, and injuring seven other people in the process.

“This tragic death could have happened to thousands of people who travel over Highway 17,” Doug McGuire, Daniel's father, said. “We are hoping to spearhead changes in the trucking industry so his life will not go wasted.”

The family's suit alleges insufficient training and supervision provided by Saini Bros. Trucking Inc. in Tracy, Charles F. Gagliasso Trucking Co. in Santa Clara, Assured Aggregates Co. Inc. in Salinas, and the truck ands trailer owner Surinder Banwait of Sacramento. Dan Chapin Co. in Salinas, the company for which the dirt was being haled, is also named in the suit.

According to Robert Allard of the law firm Corsiglia McMahon & Allard LLP, the lawsuit was filed in Monterey County because some of the trucking firms are based there. The lawsuit aims to send the message to the trucking industry that truckers need more experience before they haul loads along mountain roads.

Allard also said he wanted there to be new driver's license “tiers” suited to each individual trucker's experience. Should this go into practice, it could limit inexperienced truckers to specific load weights, or it could prevent them from driving on steep and mountainous highways.

“We thinks this falls on the trucking industry,” Allard said.

Allard said he intends on collaborating with state and federal legislators, such as U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, and state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, to enforce big-rig safety laws, should the trucking leaders fail to enhance the rules in a timely manner.

“We feel strongly that Daniel's death was a tragedy and unnecessary,” said Doug McGuire.

“We'd like to see some steps taken for change.”