By all accounts Junethea Centeno was a popular girl with many friends and an active Facebook page. Sadly, the 18-year-old Palomar College student died last Tuesday after she lost control of her Honda Civic on northbound I-15 in Escondido and struck a concrete barrier where some roadwork was being performed. A memorial Facebook page has been set up with an astounding 25,000 followers.
Junethea’s father, who was returning from Japan where he is stationed with the Navy at the time of his daughter’s death, believes the death may have preventable. He told the North County Times that he believes the way the temporary concrete barrier was set up created a dangerous condition on the roadway, and that had it been set up correctly, Junethea’s collision may have been far less severe. Her boyfriend visited the scene shortly after the crash told 10 News, “There were no orange drums, no cones, no reflectors, nothing like that.”
Apparently CalTrans was contacted, but it has refused to comment on the condition of the road. In cases like this, the legal question is whether the construction zone and concrete barrier were set up in a way that created an unreasonably dangerous condition. If the answer to that question is Yes, then a lawsuit could be brought against CalTrans, and probably the construction crew doing the work, assuming it was being done by a separate third-party contractor under contract with CalTrans. Before a lawsuit can be filed, however, a governmental claim must first be made against CalTrans, and that claim must be denied.