Fourth annual ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles, brings out 1,000, raises over $80,000 for MADD Kern County

September 27, 2017 | 9:18 am


Kern County came together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to support victims of DUI crashes, call for an end of drunk and drugged driving, and raise more than $80,000 for MADD Kern County in the process.

The fourth annual Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in locally, raise funds for MADD Kern County’s educational programs and victim services, and support local victims and survivors of drunk and drugged driving crashes. Bringing out around 1,000 people registered for a kid’s fun run, 5K and 10K, the event has become one of the largest fundraising running events in Kern County, according to Bakersfield Track Club.

The morning featured an opening ceremony with statements from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, victims of DUI crashes, Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman, Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh and Bakersfield Councilman Andrae Gonzales, among others. It was followed by a kid’s fun run presented by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club, timed 5K and 10K runs, with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

Besides serving as a presenting sponsor, Chain | Cohn | Stiles plays a role in organizing the event. Marketing Director Jorge Barrientos serves as the planning committee chairman, attorney Matt Clark leads the sponsorship committee, and attorney Neil Gehlawat serves as a member of the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

“This event keeps growing each year, which shows that Kern County has had enough. Our local residents want safer streets,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and ultimately end drunk and drugged driving.”

Joining in the event as sponsors were Chain | Cohn | Stiles (presenting sponsor), Chevron, Wells Fargo, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., FedEx, Johnson Attorneys Group, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Ira and Carole Cohen of UBS Financial Services, and Davita.

Media sponsors included KGET-17 and Telemundo, KERO-23 ABC, Eyewitness News KBAK-KBFX, Bakersfield Life Magazine, and KUZZ. “Friends of MADD” sponsors included Action Sports, Bakersfield Track Club, Challenge the Bear, Coud Nine Coffee Co. Costco, Hire A Hero So-Cal, Kern High School District, Martin’s Meats, Wood & Randall, and Sully’s.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runners in their respective age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. You can view the complete results here.

Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: Prayers for Jourdan
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Todd Farnsworth
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

As of September 2017, 17 people in Kern County had died this year from crashes caused by people who chose to get behind the wheel while under the influence, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. Hundreds more have been injured with thousands of friends and families affected. Kern County is averaging 11 DUI arrests per day.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash has raised nearly $250,000, including this year. It’s not too late to join and donate – donations are accepted until Nov. 22 at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield.

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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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What cities in America have the worst drivers, and where does Bakersfield rank?

July 19, 2017 | 9:11 am


Where are the worst drivers in America?

The answer, unfortunately, appears to be in California, where a recent survey found five cities in the state listed in the top 10 cities with the worst drivers. Bakersfield ranked No. 10.

QuoteWizard, an auto insurance comparison company, analyzed 2016 statistics from the 75 most populous metro areas in the United States and calculated incident averages that included accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, and traffic citations, like running a red light and using a cellphone while driving.

No. 1 on the list was Sacramento, while Riverside (No. 3), San Diego (No. 5) and Los Angeles (No. 6) rounded out the California cities in the top 10 cities with the worst drivers.

In December, QuoteWizard ranked the worst drivers by state, and determined California to be No. 2, behind Utah. California was No. 7 for accidents, No. 9 for speeding, No. 5 for citations, and No. 2 for DUIs.

This matters for all drivers, according to insurance experts, because the saturation of bad drivers on roadways has the ability to affect how much you pay for car insurance each month. Living in one of the worst driving cities can see your insurance rates go up, while living in one of the best driving cities can help you save money on your auto insurance.

A spokesperson for QuoteWizard stated that Southern California has a high percentage of DUI arrests, and that could very well be because of the state’s law enforcement’s strong stance against drunk driving.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been a long-time advocate for safe driving and for sharing the road — that goes for other drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists alike.

The law firm for years has been deeply involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kern County, as well as other safety groups including Bike Bakersfield. The law firm also regularly publishes safety tips on a variety of issues on this blog, Blogging for Justice.

For this article, Chain | Cohn | Stiles provides a few driving tips below to help you eliminate distracted driving, reduce traffic violations, and keep Kern County roadways as safe as possible:

  • Keep your cell phone on silent, and put in a place where you won’t be able to access it while driving.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and what other drivers around you are doing.
  • If you’re too tired to drive, find a place to stop so you can get rest before driving again.
  • If you need to eat and drink, make sure that you pull over to the side of the road.
  • Make sure that loose items in your car are secured so that they don’t startle you if they fall.
  • Never drive a vehicle if you’re under the influence of alcohol. Make sure that you have a driver who has not consumed alcohol, or use a service like Lyft or Uber who will be able to take you back to your home safely.

— By Michael Earnest for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash due to the fault of another driver, please call the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000 for a free consultation on your case, or visit chainlaw.com.

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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New Year, new laws in California for safer streets

December 28, 2016 | 11:51 am


In California, the New Year also means new laws.

And for 2017, several new transportation-related laws, and changes to existing laws, are taking effect starting Jan. 1. Many of them are aimed to keep drivers safer on our streets, including addressing the use cell phones in cars, child safety seats, and motorcycle lane splitting.

The accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles wanted to share some of these changes ahead of the New Year. Learn a little more about them below here, courtesy of the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785): Driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a cellphone will be prohibited, unless the device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield or is affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console where it does not block the driver’s view of the road. According to the Sacramento Bee, “the law is designed to stop people from holding their phones for a variety of uses that have become popular in recent years, including checking and posting on Facebook, using Snapchat, scrolling through Spotify or Pandora playlists, typing addresses into the phone’s mapping system, or making videos and taking photos.”

A recent California Office of Traffic Safety study found that one out of eight drivers pays as much attention to his or her smartphone as on the road. Distracted driving accounts for some 80 percent of crashes.

Child Safety Seats (AB 53): This law requires a parent, legal guardian, or the driver of a motor vehicle to properly secure a child who is younger than 2 years of age in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches in height.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51): This law defines “lane splitting” as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law authorizes the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting to help ensure the safety of all motorists. CHP would have to consult with safety agencies and organizations to craft the guidelines for motorcycle lane splitting.

DUI ‘Ignition’ Interlock Devices (SB 1046): This bill extends a pilot program that requires most convicted DUI drivers to install ignition interlock devices, which prevent them from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. Under the law, the DUI offender is able to obtain a restricted driver’s license, have their license reissued, or get their motor vehicle privileges reinstated on the condition that they install a device in their vehicle for a prescribed amount of time. The bill extends the pilot program in four California counties — Kern County not being one of them — before it expands to the entire state on Jan. 1, 2019.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is actively involved with Mother Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

Accident Reporting (SB 491): This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to be reported to the DMV from $750 to $1,000 when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287): This law, called the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety (CARS) Act, requires the DMV to include a general advisory regarding vehicle recalls and needed repairs on each vehicle registration renewal notice. This law also bans a dealer or a rental car company from renting or loaning a vehicle with a manufacturer’s recall until the vehicle has been repaired.

Installing Counterfeit or Nonfunctional Air Bags (AB 2387): This law prohibits knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, importing, installing, reinstalling, distributing, or selling any device intended to replace an air bag system in any motor vehicle if the device is a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag system, or does not meet federal safety requirements. This violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or up to a one year in county jail.

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If you or someone you know is involved in a motor vehicle accident at the fault of another, please call the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Holiday season a time for cheer, a time for safety

December 14, 2016 | 10:44 am


It’s the time of cheer, and a time of celebration.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles wants to make sure you and your family enjoy the holiday season, while staying as safe as possible. With so many potential dangers affiliated with the holiday season — driving and traveling, celebrating with alcohol, and decorating your home, as examples — it’s important for everyone be aware of how to remain as safe as possible and remain injury-free.

Please take note of the following safety tips as you celebrate with your family this holiday season.

 

Home Safety 

The holidays and “home” go hand in hand — home decorating and home cooking, for example. But each year, we see tens of thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating.

As you celebrate in your home, please keep these notes in mind, courtesy of the National Safety Council:

  • Make sure your Christmas tree has a stable platform.
  • If you choose an artificial tree, make sure that it is labeled as fire resistant. Also, spraying artificial snow can irritate your lungs if inhaled. Decorate the tree with your kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top.
  • Never use lighted candles near Christmas trees or boughs.
  • Keep your pets and children away from poisonous plants and other potential hazards.
  • If using a natural tree, make sure it is well watered.
  • Check holiday lights for fraying, bare spots, gaps in the insulation or excessive kinking in the wire.
  • Turn off all tree lights and decorations when not in use. Additionally, more than 10 percent of home candle fires take place in December. Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle.
  • When putting up decorations, use a step stool or ladder to reach high places.
  • When preparing a meal, wash hands, utensils, sink and anything else that touches raw meat. And reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees.

 

Celebrating with Alcohol 

It’s OK to have a little eggnog, but it’s important to plan ahead before celebrating with alcoholic drinks. During the holiday season, more people die in highway related crashes related to alcohol that any other time of year.

  • The best call is to just say “no.” Resist the pressure to drink alcohol.
  • If you do drink, designate a driver before the party begins. If you or your friends are going to a party and plan to use alcohol, decide in advance who will be the designated driver. Decide that drinking and driving is not an option.
  • The main purpose of a party is to have fun with people you know. You can stop yourself before you go too far, you just need to choose to do so.
  • Additionally, MADD and Uber has launched a national holiday campaign on Monday, in which Uber is directing riders to take a pledge on madd.org/uber to #LeavetheKeys on social media.

 

Traveling 

Tens of millions of people choose to travel during the holidays. Before you hit the road, keep these points in mind:

  • Never drink and drive. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represented 31 percent of the all road-related crashes.
  • Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party.
  • Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance being traveled.
  • Put that cell phone away; distracted driving causes one-quarter of all crashes.
  • Properly maintain the vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you.
  • Be prepared for heavy traffic, and possibly heavy snow.

The Bakersfield Police Department will be running its year-end “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement mobilization continuing into the New Year. The campaign includes DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols.

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If you or your family members are hurt this holiday season at the fault of someone else, please call the injury and accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joins Bakersfield Police in fight to end DUIs, distracted driving

November 23, 2016 | 6:00 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles for years has been fighting to end drunk driving in Kern County, while also raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and advocating for bicycle and pedestrian safety locally.

And with news that the Bakersfield Police Department was awarded a $415,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program, in part, for these same causes, the streets of Bakersfield may be getting safer.

Recently, local media highlighted the new grant that will fund educational presentations, DUI checkpoints, bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement, distracted driving enforcement and seat belt child safety seat enforcement, and more.

“The Bakersfield Police Department is committed to ensuring traffic safety on city roadways,” said Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson in a news release.

So, too, is the Bakersfield-based accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, in partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles Director of Marketing and Public Relations Jorge Barrientos spoke with media about grant, and what it means for MADD Kern County. Chain | Cohn | Stiles is a strong and active supporter of MADD Kern County, and deeply involved in the fight against drunk driving in our community. Barrientos serves as the planning committee chairman for MADD Kern County’s annual fundraising and awareness event. And attorneys Matt Clark and Neil Gehlawat are members of the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

“Currently we are seeing about 12 DUI arrests per day,” Barrientos told Eyewitness News. “That’s more than 4,000 a year. And, that’s just the people that are getting caught … We do know for a fact that a lot of people that are getting caught have been caught before … It’s a 100 percent preventable crime. You don’t have to get behind the wheel after you have a drink.”

In all, the grant will help fund the following efforts:
  • Educational presentations
  • DUI checkpoints
  • DUI saturation patrols
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement
  • Motorcycle safety enforcement
  • Distracted driving enforcement
  • Seat belt and child safety seat enforcement
  • Speed, red light, and stop sign enforcement
  • Warrant service operations targeting multiple DUI offenders
  • Compilation of DUI “Hot Sheets,” identifying worst-of-the-worst DUI offenders
  • Specialized DUI and drugged driving training such as Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, and Drug Recognition Evaluator
  • Court “sting” operations to cite individuals driving from DUI court after ignoring their license suspension or revocation
  • Stakeout operations to observe the “worst-of-the-worst” repeat DUI offender probationers with suspended or revoked driver licenses

In September this year, Kern County came together for the third Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K at the Park at River Walk, called for an end of drunk driving, and raised more than $62,000 in the process to fight against drinking and driving locally.

The 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K has raised more than $160,000.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently has also partnered with Bike Bakersfield, a local nonprofit bicycle advocacy group, to give out free safety helmets and bike safety lights.

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

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Kern County calls for end of drunk driving in 2016 ‘Walk Like MADD’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

September 28, 2016 | 10:26 am


Kern County came together for the third year Sept. 24 at the Park at River Walk, called for an end of drunk driving, and raised more than $62,000 in the process to fight against drinking and driving locally.

The 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash – presented by the Bakersfield accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles – aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. It has become one of the largest running events in the area, according to Bakersfield Track Club, with more than 800 registered timed participants.

The morning featured a touching ceremony with speeches from representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County, victims of DUI crashes, District Attorney Lisa Green, and Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall, among others. Following was a kid’s fun run, a 5K run with medals awarded in age categories, and a march by victims, their families and supporters from our community.

“We want to thank our advocates, partners, teams, participants and volunteers for making Kern County’s 2016 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K a huge success,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will commit to continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and end drunk driving here.”

Joining in the event as sponsors were Chain | Cohn | Stiles (as the presenting sponsor), Wells Fargo, State Farm, Chevron, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Kern County Bar Association Foundation, FedEx, Kern Schools Federal Credit Union, Clinica Sierra Vista, Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services Inc., KGET-17 and Telemundo, KERO ABC 23, Bakersfield Life Magazine, and Eyewitness News (KBAK-29, KBFX-58), and KUZZ, among others.

Medals and trophies were awarded to the fastest runner in their respective age categories, with results posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. Awards were also given to the following top fundraisers:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: MADD Dogs
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Mike and Sally Yraceburn
  • Law Enforcement Challenge: Kern County District Attorney’s Office
  • Corporate Challenge: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union

Last year, Kern County saw more than 4,000 DUI arrests, averaging nearly 12 DUI arrests per day, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. And 10 people were killed because of a decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. The somber statistics continue this year.

Since 2014, the annual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K has raised more than $160,000. It’s not too late to join the fight – you can donate until Oct. 24 at www.walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

And stay tuned for information on the 2017 Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K held Sept. 23, 2017.

 

Supporting Chain | Cohn | Stiles, DUI victims

Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to thank the following individuals and companies for supporting the law firm’s team at the 2016 Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K.

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Chain | Cohn | Stiles presenting sponsor for third ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K’

August 17, 2016 | 9:42 am


Last year, there were 4,223 DUI arrests in Kern County, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office. And since 2009, there have been at least 4,000 DUIs every year in the county, with a high of nearly 5,000 in 2011.

Since 2000, the deadliest year for DUI-related crashes countywide was 2006, when 15 people were killed. Last year, 10 were killed.

Unfortunately, the grim totals continue this year. Drinking and driving, and crashes as a result, have become an epidemic in Bakersfield and throughout Kern County.

It’s a problem, unfortunately, that the injury lawyers and staff at the Law Offices of Chain | Cohn | Stiles see all too often. The Bakersfield-based law firm represents many innocent victims of crashes who have seen their lives and their family’s ripped apart because of someone’s decision to drink and drive.

But like thousands throughout Kern County, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has subscribed to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving slogan, “Drunk driving ends here!” We’re fighting back.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to be the presenting sponsor for the third annual Bakersfield “Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash 5K.” The event — which will be held Saturday, Sept. 24, at Park at River Walk — is aimed to raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, raise funds to stop drunken driving locally, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes.

 

Stepping Up

In the last two years, local residents have stepped up to take part in the annual Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash 5K, raising more than $100,000 total in the process. Those funds have been used to help victims of DUI crashes in emergencies, guide those victims through the court process, teach local high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving, and much more to raise awareness locally.

Through it all, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been a key organizer of the annual event. Marketing director Jorge Barrientos is the event planning committee chairman, and was named the 2015 Volunteer of the Year for MADD California. Lawyer Matt Clark also serves as a committee member, bringing in sponsors to support the cause. And Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat is a member on the MADD Kern County Advisory Board, which guides MADD Kern County on how best to implement programs and services, increase awareness of drunken driving in Kern County and raise money to accomplish its goals.

The Bakersfield California recently highlighted the newly established MADD Kern County Advisory Board. To read that article, click here.

 

‘Spirit of Fight’

For innocent victims of DUI crashes and their families, the MADD event – for at least one day – provides a venue to share stories, let them know they’re not alone, have their voices heard, remember lives lost, heal and hope together.

“Even for that one day we are heard,” said Alicia Smith in Bakersfield Life Magazine, who two years ago was hit by a drunken driver and is still recovering from a broken hip and knee, and emotional scars. “To see the community come together for this cause is wonderful in so many ways.”

The first year, Alicia took part in the event while in a wheelchair; the second year, she walked, although through pain; and this year, she’ll keep on marching, she said.

“Every year, this event is bigger and accomplishes more and more, and that spirit of fight motivates me to press on,” Smith said.

The event also brings together people from throughout the community: surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

 

In This Together

“We’re all in this together,” said Matt Clark, attorney and partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We’re all tired of seeing our neighbors, friends and family’s lives affected by such a preventable crime.”

Joining Chain | Cohn | Stiles to fight to end drunk driving as a business sponsor are:

  • Wells Fargo
  • State Farm
  • Chevron
  • Kern County Prosecutors Association
  • Kern County Bar Association Foundation
  • FedEx
  • Clinica Sierra Vista
  • Kern Schools Federal Credit Union
  • STEPS: Special Treatment Education & Prevention Services, Inc.

Local media is assisting in raising awareness throughout Kern County. They include:

  • KGET-17, Telemundo and Bakersfield CW
  • Eyewitness News: KBAK-29 and KBFX-58
  • Bakersfield Life Magazine (B Well Magazine)

 

3rd Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K

When: Saturday, Sept. 24 (check in starts at 6:30 a.m.; ceremony at 7:30 a.m.; walk/5K starts at 8 a.m.)

Where: Park at River Walk, 11298 Stockdale Highway

What: Victim 5K walk, chip-timed 5K run with medals awarded, kid’s Superhero-themed fun run, vendors, information booths, games, much more.

Register / Donate / Join the Fight: walklikemadd.org/bakersfield

Connect: Facebook at “Bakersfield Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 2016

 

— Marisol Earnest, for Chain | Cohn | Stiles, contributed to this article 

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MEDIA COVERAGE

PREVIOUS MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit in case of Tehachapi teenager killed in DUI hit-and-run

February 17, 2016 | 10:41 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian — a Tehachapi teenage girl — in which the driver was driving under the influence, according to California Highway Patrol reports.

Local media covered a press conference Wednesday morning hosted by Matthew C. Clark and Neil Gehlawat from the personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm. They were joined by the mother and sister of Leslie Balderrama, who was killed in October last year.

Read the news release and click the media links to see full coverage of the press conference and criminal case.

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Bakersfield, Calif. – Leslie Elaine Balderrama was a freshman at Tehachapi High School who excelled in school and out of school, including on the basketball court and through various volunteer endeavors. Add her contagious smile and bright personality, and Leslie was in a league of her own, her family says.

On Oct. 10, 2015, Leslie was walking home from a friend’s house when she was suddenly struck by a pickup truck on the dirt right shoulder of State Route 202.  She eventually succumbed to her injuries, just 15 days shy of her 15th birthday.

The occupants of the truck – Issac Macias, 20, and passenger Ibrahim Essa Gomes, 19 – fled the scene of the crash without calling the police or summoning medical help.  Both Macias and Gomes were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.  After the pickup collided with Leslie, Gomes got out of the pickup and looked at her, telling CHP officers later that “she didn’t look like she got that messed up,” despite her not moving. Macias never got out of the pickup.

Despite driving under the influence of alcohol, killing Balderrama, and fleeing the scene, Macias to this date has not been charged with a crime. Gomes, too, has not been charged.

On Wednesday, Chain | Cohn | Stiles will file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Leslie’s mother, Evelyn Denise Natividad, against Macias and Gomes, as well as Exelon Generation Company, LLC and First Solar, Inc., who employed Macias at the time of the collision and entrusted him with the pickup.

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During the press conference, attorney Matt Clark called the suspects in the crash “despicable” and said he has confidence that the Kern County District Attorney’s Office is working on filing criminal charges against the two.

“In my opinion, that is truly despicable conduct. They have every obligation to summon medical help,” Clark said of the hit-and-run under the influence that left Leslie dead. “I have every reason to believe charges are coming. In this type of case, there really needs to be an example set.”

Additionally, mother Denise Natividad spoke about her daughter, and her commitment to school, sports and her community.

“It’s hard every day I have to live without her.”

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MEDIA COVERAGE (FATAL HIT-AND-RUN)

MEDIA COVERAGE (PRESS CONFERENCE / WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT)

MEDIA COVERAGE (SENTENCING)