YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. – The county has settled a lawsuit which states a poorly-designed intersection resulted in a Granger High School student’s death in 2015.
Yakima County settled the lawsuit for $1.6 million after 17-year-old Angel Mendoza was killed at the intersection of Yakima Valley Highway and Gurley Road, local law firm Tamaki Law announced.
According to the lawsuit, Angel was riding as a front seat passenger in a Honda heading east on Yakima Valley Highway, nearing the intersection at Gurley Road.
Rather than remain on Yakima Valley Highway, the driver continued onto Gurley Road and struck a vehicle head-on while going 60 miles per hour.
Angel was killed and two other passengers were hurt in this crash. Attorneys said the intersection has no road signs warning the driver to yield to traffic heading west.
The intersection had a history of crashes similar to the one that killed Angel Mendoza, according to Tamaki Law.
The lawsuit indicates the county chose to lower the speed limit instead of redesigning the intersection to comply with national road design standards despite these crashes and complaints to the county from neighbors in the 1990s.
The law firm filed the lawsuit in November of 2017 in Benton County Superior Court.
This case was recently settled with one of the terms requiring county engineers to meet with Angel’s family and their attorneys to discuss a redesign of the intersection to ensure no other victims are inured or killed due to the design. That meeting took place August 21 at Tamaki Law Offices.
County attorney Don Anderson tells the law firm county commissioners is set adopt a proposed transportation plan to redesign the intersection within the next couple of weeks.
According to a news release, Angel was the oldest of five children to Juana and Raul Mendoza. Angel was one of the top students at Granger High School, working to earn his Associates Degree from Yakima Community College while also earning his high school diploma.
He was involved in Upward Bound, a program that offers guidance and support to college-bound low-income students. He was also heavily involved in his local church where he sang in the parish choir and volunteered hundreds of hours, including at local senior centers. He was planning to attend either Eastern Washington University or University of Washington to study physical therapy.
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