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Three Teenagers Dead and One Injured After Unexpected Reversing Puts Car in Canal

As a Pembroke Pines auto accident attorney, I was sorry to see reports of a serious accident affecting four students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. According to a Nov. 16 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Anthony Almonte, Sean Maxey and Robert Nugent died just after midnight on Sunday morning after their vehicle crashed through a guardrail and into a canal off Broken Woods Drive in Coral Springs. The fourth teen in the car, 15-year-old Evan Sinisgalli, was able to escape and stumble to the shore, where he called to neighbors for help. The four were out celebrating their high school’s homecoming weekend.

The accident may have been a mistake by Maxey, the driver, who had had his license for less than a month. Maxey reportedly had a fender-bender with another driver when trying to make a turn from Broken Woods onto University Drive. After that crash, Maxey put the car into reverse and apparently just kept going, traveling at least 242 feet and hitting a street sign before hitting the guardrail and going over the edge. Sinisgalli told police he had unbuckled his seatbelt after the crash, expecting to get out. The other young men were all wearing seatbelts when rescue workers found them drowned. Broward County’s Chief Medical Examiner said their injuries weren’t serious enough to stop them from trying to escape and suggested that water pressure may have made it difficult to open the doors.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of these young men. The victims’ friends say that they weren’t drinking, but suggested that Maxey may have been trying to flee the scene because he was out later than teenaged drivers are allowed under Florida law. This accident may have been a panicked overreaction by an inexperienced driver. But as a Tamarac car crash lawyer, I will be very interested to see whether the investigation turns up any defects in the 2007 Volkswagen they were using. Thanks to the Toyota and Lexus recall, we already know that electronic systems in late-model vehicles are suspected of causing problems, or exacerbating mechanical problems they were not designed to handle. If the rapid backward acceleration Maxey experienced was not intentional, he and his friends may have been victims of a serious safety flaw that could affect more Volkswagen drivers.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn has more than two decades of experience representing people who were seriously injured or lost a family member in a bad car accident. We are proud of our strong record of significant recoveries for these clients. In many accidents, victims of serious physical injuries sustain financial injuries as well, after bills related to the crash start rolling in and insurance companies don’t step in to help. Our Sunrise traffic accident attorneys stand by our clients’ sides through this difficult time, helping them negotiate a maze of unfamiliar legal and medical procedures, sneaky insurance company behavior and financial uncertainty. We negotiate aggressively on behalf of injured accident victims — but when necessary, we can and absolutely will file lawsuits to get them the money they are legally entitled to.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries in a car wreck that was no fault of your own, Cohn, Smith & Cohn would like to help. To learn more about your legal rights and your options at a free, confidential consultation, please contact us through our Web site or call our main office at (954) 431-8100 today.

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