• August 16, 2022

Lisa Biakanja, 3 Children Killed in Crossover Accident on CA-156 near Hollister

UPDATE (August 18, 2022): The woman driving the Tesla involved in this accident has been identified as 55-year-old Lisa Biakanja.

Hollister, CA — August 14, 2022, a woman and three middle-schoolers died when their Tesla crashed with a big rig on State Highway 156 near Hollister.

Reports say the incident happened around 8:05 p.m. on Hwy 156 near Fairview Road. Preliminary investigation suggests the family's Tesla vehicle was traveling east when it allegedly crossed over the center lines for unknown reasons. After entering oncoming traffic the Tesla crashed head on with a westbound Freightliner 18-wheeler.

All four occupants of the Tesla, said to be a mother and her three middle-school-aged children, died in the collision.

The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.

Lisa, Lucy, Leigh, and Ben Biakanja Killed in Tesla Crossover Accident with 18-wheeler on CA-156 near Hollister

Commentary on Biakanja Family Accident near Hollister

Folks don't always pay much attention to crashes like this, tragic though they are. That's because they tend to believe law enforcement has everything under control. Someone lost control of their vehicle and crossed over, so police will find out what kind of mistake they made...right?

Not necessarily. While it's true that operator error causes many crossover accidents, it's far from the only explanation and authorities sometimes lose sight of that in their rush to blame speeding or texting.

For example, when our firm takes another look we rarely find that any attention was paid to things like vehicular failures or defects. They aren't particularly common, but even with that said they happen all the time and can have deadly results. I have no interest in picking a fight with Tesla here, but the company is known for bringing new technology to their vehicles (including limited autopilot features) that haven't worked out ideally every time. News reports suggest the victims were in a 2014 Tesla without autopilot, but it still deserves closer investigation to be sure. It also still has many of the same potential problems as more conventional cars: brake failures, suspension or alignment problems, steering issues, and many others--all of which must also be considered.

Without bringing other factors beyond simple driver mistakes to light, folks might blame someone for something they simply had no control over. Whether or not that happened near Hollister remains to be seen, of course, but it's important to recognize the possibility and investigate accordingly. Click below to learn more about the limitations of some police investigations and what else can be done.

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