The parents of an 8-year-old Newport Beach boy who was struck and killed by a trash truck while he was riding his bicycle home from school in 2016 filed a wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday against the waste company and its driver.
Brock McCann, who was a third-grader at Newport Heights Elementary, was riding his bicycle home after school along 15th Street near Michael Place on May 25, 2016, when a trash truck operated by city contractor CR&R struck him.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Orange County Superior Court, alleges that driver Roberto Zermeno Pedroza didn’t stop the truck as he was approaching 15th Street from Michael Place in accordance with his training, despite his view being obstructed by a parked car, a tree and solid fencing on the right side.
“On the contrary, Mr. Zermeno kept going forward and completed a right turn onto 15th Street without ever stopping, and while looking almost exclusively to his left,” the lawsuit states. “Since his attention was entirely diverted in the other direction, Mr. Zermeno never saw Brock McCann entering the unmarked crosswalk across Michael Place to his right.”
Despite Brock’s attempt to stop his bicycle to avoid the crash, he was hit and died at the scene, according to the suit.
CR&R Inc. did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.
The lawsuit states that trash pickup times should have been adjusted to avoid school dismissal times when large numbers of children from Newport Heights Elementary, Ensign Intermediate and Newport Harbor High schools would be walking and bicycling in the area.
The city of Newport Beach directed CR&R to change trash pickup times as a result of the boy’s death, according to the lawsuit.
However, a news release issued by law firm Aitken Aitken Cohn, which is representing the family, alleges that CR&R and its drivers “routinely ignore this directive, and still run their routes near these schools during drop off and pick up periods.”
The lawsuit also contends that the trash trucks were not equipped with a “bug-eye” mirror on the upper right windshield, which could have reduced blind spots.
The McCanns are seeking general damages and Brock’s funeral and burial expenses.
In the weeks after Brock’s death, Newport Beach city leaders directed staff to study ways to enhance bicycle safety in Newport Heights.
In July, the city began removing several dozen trees along 15th Street in an effort to make sidewalks continuous along the south side of the street and improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Since Brock’s death, his parents, Patrick Murphy McCann and Bernardette McCann, have worked toward making it safer for students to walk and ride bikes to schools in their communities, by working with the Safe Routes to Schools program.
“Without taking a look at the whole traffic situation and making monumental changes, this will happen again. It is just a matter of time,” the McCanns said in a prepared statement. “The purpose of this lawsuit is to prevent something like this from happening again.”