Chain | Cohn | Stiles matches donation to MADD Kern County by mother of Tehachapi teenager who died after being struck, killed by DUI driver

August 23, 2017 | 8:44 am


The mother of Leslie Balderrama, a Tehachapi teenager who was struck and killed by a DUI driver in 2015, has donated $2,500 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, following the settlement of her wrongful death lawsuit.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the law firm that represented mother Denise Natividad, matched the donation. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

“When we became victims of a DUI crime, MADD Kern County became our advocate and worked hard to make sure we had a voice, and treated our family with compassion,” said Denise Natividad, mother of Leslie Balderrama. “We’re able to give back now and help another local family who unfortunately will have to deal with the aftermath of the actions of a drunk or drugged driver.”

Added Matt Clark, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney for the Natividad family:

“The crash that claimed the life of Leslie Baldarrama was incredibly tragic and 100 percent avoidable like all DUI crashes. Our law firm is honored to continue to help MADD Kern County, and it’s touching to know that Leslie’s family feels the same way.”

The $5,000 will go toward the fourth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County’s annual event that raises funds to help innocent victims of local DUI crashes, raises awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and helps fund MADD Kern County programs, including the court advocate program that helped the Natividad family through the criminal trial. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is serving as a presenting sponsor for the event.

“Our wish is to get to a point where MADD Kern County’s services aren’t needed,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist with MADD Kern County. “Until then, we’re grateful for the support from Denise Natividad, which helps us continue to advocate for victims, and fight to end drunk and drugged driving in Kern County forever.”

The 2017 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash will be held the morning of Sept. 23 at Park at River Walk. You can help by signing up to walk, run (free kid’s fun run, 5K or 10K), joining as a team captain, donating or volunteering. The family of Leslie Balderrama has formed a team, and will be in attendance. For more information, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,056 DUI arrests in 2016, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash at the fault of someone else, please contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins MADD to honor local officers, prosecutors fighting to end DUI crimes

June 15, 2017 | 8:27 am


Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Kern County recognized and honored local law enforcement officers and prosecutors on Wednesday, June 14, for their valiant efforts in helping stop DUI crimes.

Bakersfield-based personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles was proud to be a sponsor, supporter and organizer of the event.

In all, more than 70 officers from throughout Kern County agencies were awarded at the 2017 Kern County MADD Law Enforcement and Prosecutor Recognition ceremony, held at Hodel’s Country Dining in Bakersfield. Prosecutors from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office were also honored, with the highest awards going to the top prosecutor, top probation officer, and the top law enforcement officer.

“These local heroes are potentially helping save lives by removing DUI offenders from our streets,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “They deserve recognition for making our communities throughout Kern County safer.”

To view the names of all of the officers awarded, click here. Among the top award winners were:

  • Probation Department Award, Deputy Luis Gomez: While Deputy Probation Officer Luis Gomez does not conduct traffic stops to arrest DUI offenders, he does work hard at keeping the community safe by supervising felony probationers to ensure they are not consuming alcohol. He also works tirelessly to ensure these offenders remain in compliance with the orders of the court. Through funding provided by the Office of Transportation and Safety, Officer Gomez supervises 75 high-risk, felony and repeat DUI offenders. In 2016 alone, Officer Gomez conducted 947 home calls and 855 office conferences with these dangerous offenders. In 2016, he conducted 522 urinalysis tests by ETG device and 1,125 Breathalyzer tests. Officer Gomez has been swift in his responses to those who violate Court orders by arresting them or placing them on monitoring programs in an effort to reduce their alcohol consumption. Officer Gomez’ diligence in supervising these high-risk worst of the worst DUI offenders is commendable and has gone a long way to help keep our streets safer for the citizens of Kern County.
  • Top Prosecutor 187 Award, Kern County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Michael Yraceburn: Michael Yraceburn prosecuted the nation’s first successful murder conviction for driving while impaired by marijuana. That March 2014 crash, in which the suspect was driving close to 80 miles per hour before losing control, killed David Aggio on impact. The suspect was sentenced to 20 years to life.
  • Top Law Enforcement, Bakersfield Police Officer Louis James: Officer James was reassigned to the Bakersfield Police Department’s Traffic Section in July 2015. Since then, he has primarily worked the graveyard shift. As a result, he has been one of the most, if not the most, productive traffic officer in regards to DUI enforcement. Though he was assigned to the traffic section for only a year and a half, he maintained his aggressive DUI enforcement to make the citizens of Bakersfield safer. In 2015, He received an award from MADD California for his efforts, and in 2016 he arrested 247 DUI drivers. This was the most of all traffic units within the department and one of the highest in California.

Prosecutor’s Awards were also handed out by the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, and were awarded to Kim Richardson, Garrett Rice and Brad Taconi.

The awards ceremony returned to Bakersfield for 2017 after the loss of federal grant funding and budget cuts prevented the 2016 awards luncheon from being hosted in Kern County. This year, several community sponsors, working with MADD Kern County’s Advisory Board, stepped up to make sure officers from all Kern County agencies were being honored for their work in fighting against DUI crimes.

The MADD Kern County Advisory Board includes Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat and marketing director Jorge Barrientos.

Sponsors for the awards luncheon included anonymous donors, Chevron, Kern Federal Credit Union, Bakersfield Police Officers Association, Greenlawn Mortuary, Raymond’s Trophy, Clifford & Bradford Insurance Agency, Sally Herald CPA, and Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, with 4,056 DUI arrests in 2016, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. That’s more than 11 DUI arrests per day. Sadly, many impaired drivers weren’t stopped in time, and instead caused major damage to innocent lives.

The awards luncheon is one of two MADD Kern County signature events aimed to bring awareness of the DUI epidemic in our community, and fight toward ending DUI crimes here. Bakersfield’s 2017 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Park at River Walk.

You, too, can be involved in the fight to end drunk and drugged driving locally. You can help by signing up as a walker, runner (5K or 10K), team captain, or volunteer. Parents: The event also features a kid’s “fun run,” where each child of walk and race participants gets a free superhero cape. You can even get involved if you aren’t able to attend by signing up as a “virtual walker,” or by asking a donation toward a participant or team who has been affected.

For more information on that event, go to walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

— Alyssa Wood of Chain | Cohn | Stiles contributed to this report. 

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles continues fight to end drunk driving in Kern County with MADD

September 2, 2015 | 3:13 pm


California Highway Patrol gave nearly 2,200 citations for driving under the influence in Bakersfield in 2014. CHP officers in Kern County in the same year also noted 312 collisions, 422 injuries, and 14 fatalities – all involving DUI.

They are statistics, arrests and tragedies that are 100 percent preventable – choices were made by people to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. That decision affected families and communities.

In an effort to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes, the Kern County chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will host its second Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Park at River Walk, 11200 Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield.

For the second year, the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is supporting MADD and the event, serving as sponsor and key partner in organizing the event. Earlier this year, Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos was named MADD California’s volunteer of the year for his work with MADD Kern County.

This second annual event follows the first-ever Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash in which 700 people attended and raised more than $46,000 to fight against drunk driving locally. That event followed a tragic 2013 on Kern’s roadways in which more than 30 deaths and 600 injuries occurred at the hands of drunken drivers.

“The fight is not over,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. “People are still making the choice to get behind the wheel after drinking, putting your life and their own life at risk. These are not accidents – they are 100 percent preventable crashes.”

The event ceremony will start at 7:30 a.m. and the race and walk will kick off starting at 8 a.m. In attendance will be surviving victims of drunken driving crashes and their families, supporters, law enforcement officers with their vehicles, a Kern County Fire Department engine and giant flag, A Life Interrupted display vehicle, an activities area for kids, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

For more information and to register to participate, go to www.walklikemadd/bakersfield.

SPONSORS

The event is supported by local law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as sponsoring local companies. Sponsors include:

Local media is also supporting the cause and helping raise awareness. Media sponsors include:

Several other local groups are assisting MADD Kern County with donations and other assistance. They include:

MEDIA COVERAGE

Several local media agencies have partnered with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to raise awareness of the problems in Kern County, and support the Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K. Stay tuned to this section for coverage of the event.

MADD, CCS brings together Kern County residents for inaugural Walk Like MADD event to eliminate drunk driving

May 29, 2014 | 9:23 am


A 22-year-old respiratory therapist named Princess, who was the primary provider for her family. A 25-year-old pregnant mother-to-be. A 6-month-old daughter, and sister to a twin. What do all of these people have in common?

These are just some of the innocent lives taken away from Bakersfield this year at the hands of people driving under the influence. In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Department and California Highway Patrol statistics. In 2013, Kern saw 15 DUI-related fatalities. They are statistics, arrests and tragedies that could have been 100 percent preventable – choices were made by people to get behind the wheel while intoxicated. That decision affected entire families and communities.

In an effort to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes, the Bakersfield/Kern County affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will host its first-ever “Walk/Run Like Madd” 5K at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Park at River Walk.

“This is our moment to say enough is enough,” said Carla Pearson, program coordinator and victim
advocate for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County. “We need to stop this madness on our
roadways.”

For Pearson, she knows too well the negative effects of drinking and driving. In 2002, her stepson, 23-year-old Adam Pierce, was killed by a repeat DUI offender. Following that tragedy, Pearson campaigned for victim’s rights in and out of the courtroom, and to take DUI offenders off of the streets. Her fight led to changes in California law in 2002 (Adam’s Law: AB 2173, VC 23593) that warned convicted DUI offenders that if they drove while drunk and someone died, they could be charged with murder.
Since 2011, MADD Kern County has assisted in more than 500 cases involving felony, injury and
fatal DUIs.

Today, Pearson is bringing the 5K walk and run to Kern County in hopes that local residents can help make a change in our community.

“The stories are still in the news, and we’re not getting it. Our community members are being killed by people’s wrong choices,” Pearson said. “We need to bring awareness. We need to make a change.”
Pearson is backed in this inaugural event by several local agencies including the Kern County District Attorney’s Office, Bakersfield Police Department, California Highway Patrol and sponsors including the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Walk Like MADD events are taking place in cities across the country, but ths is a first for Bakersfield. Registration is $15 for those ages 5-21, and $20 for those who are 21 and older. Corporations and groups are encouraged to form teams of 10 or more, and are asked to raise $100 each through donations. The goal in this inaugural walk and run is to raise $25,000 locally.

Individuals can participate in Walk Like MADD in three ways:

1) You can register to walk as an individual or form a team.
2) If you unable to attend, you can sign up online to raise money as a virtual walker.
3) Or, you can give a one-time donation to Walk Like MADD.

To sign up, donate or for more information, go to the local walk-run portal HERE.

You can also Google “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD” or search on Facebook: “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD.”

For more local information on the walk-run, to get in touch with local victims and/or families of victims, or if you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Jorge Barrientos at 661-334-4948, jbarrientos@chainlaw.com.

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ABOUT MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21 is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every 8.6 minutes at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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SOBERING FACTS

MOTHERS AGAINST DRUNK DRIVING

  • MADD is a nonprofit, grassroots organization with more than 2 million members and supporters nationwide.
  • It was founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver.

DRUNK DRIVING IN BAKERSFIELD/KERN COUNTY

  • In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Deparment and California Highway Patrol statistics.
  • In 2013, Kern saw 15 DUI-related fatalities.

DRUNK DRIVING IN CALIFORNIA

  • In 2012, California saw 802 drunk driving fatalities where drivers had .08 BAC or higher.
  • That represents nearly 30 percent of all total traffic deaths, and a nearly 4 percent increase from the year before.

DRUNK DRIVING IN THE UNITED STATES

  • In 2012, 10,322 people died in drunk driving crashes nationwide – one every 51 minutes.
  • Drunk driving makes up one-third of all highway fatalities in the United States.
  • Almost every 90 seconds, someone is injured in a drunk driving crash.
  • One in three people will be involved in drunk driving crash in their lifetime.
  •  Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

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EVENT INFORMATION

WHAT: The Kern County/Bakersfield affiliate of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosts its signature “Walk Like MADD” 5K fundraising walk and run on Saturday, Sept. 20, at The Park at River Walk. Local families, friends and co-workers will walk to raise funds and show support for MADD’s “Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.”

Funds raised through Walk Like MADD help further MADD’s life-saving mission and the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which calls for such things as high-visibility law enforcement, ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers and support for the development of advanced in-vehicle technology to prevent a drunk driver from operating the vehicle. Funds also support victims and survivors of drunk-driving crashes.

The timing for Walk Like MADD is significant because Bakersfield and Kern County have been host to one too many fatal DUI crashes in recent years.

WHEN: 6 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014; Pre-walk remarks begin at 6:30 a.m.; Walk begins at 7 a.m.

WHERE: The Park at River Walk, 11200 Stockdale Highway in Bakersfield.

WHY: In 2014 thus far, Kern County has witnessed seven fatal crashes involving DUI drivers, according to Bakersfield Police Department and California Highway Patrol statistics. In 2013, Kern County saw 15 DUI-related fatalities. Nationwide, more than 10,000 people were killed in 2012 and another 345,000 people were injured in drunk-driving crashes.

VISUALS: Families of victims of drunk-driving crashes, supporters, law enforcement personnel and
other community members walking and running for the cause.

SIGN UP: Go HERE

CONTACT: Jorge Barrientos, Marketing Director: 661-334-4948, jbarrientos@chainlaw.com