It’s every mother’s worst nightmare to watch her young children die before her eyes.
Hidden Hills socialite Rebecca Grossman is facing murder charges after a hit-and-run crash in Westlake Village that resulted in the death of 2 little boys.
Let’s take a closer look at the accident and the laws related to hit-and-run crashes in California.
Who is Rebecca Grossman?
Rebecca Grossman is the co-founder of the Grossman Burn Foundation located in Calabasas, California, along with her husband, Dr. Peter Grossman.
Rebecca, who lives in a $9.5 million house in Hidden Hills, has participated in a number of humanitarian causes, including the prevention of violence against women. She was named “Woman of the Year” in 2007 by the American Heart Association.
The fatal accident in Westlake Village
Nancy Iskander was crossing Triunfo Canyon Road at a crosswalk in Westlake Village with her 3 children when she heard the roar of engines and saw 2 large SUVs racing toward them.
Nancy pulled her 5-year-old to safety, but her other 2 children, 11-year-old Mark Iskander and 8-year-old Jacob Iskander, were struck and killed by 1 of the SUVs.
“They didn’t stop before the intersection,” Nancy said. “They didn’t stop at the intersection. They didn’t stop when an 11-year-old was on the hood of the car. Nobody stopped.”
Rebecca Grossman was driving the SUV that struck the 2 boys. She had been racing another SUV, driven by former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Scott Erickson. The 2 had just left a nearby restaurant where they had been drinking cocktails.
Court records reveal that Rebecca was traveling 81 mph in a 45-mph zone when she struck the boys.
When Rebecca was found by the police, she was parked on the side of the road less than a mile from the scene of the accident. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.08 percent, the legal limit for intoxication in California. She claimed that she didn’t know why her airbags had been triggered. Court records show that she attempted to start her vehicle 14 times after it came to a stop.
“She did not come back,” said Los Angeles County Judge Shellie Samuels. “She did not turn around. She could have walked back to the scene. She hit and ran, and that is what she did.”
Rebecca Grossman ordered to stand trial for murder
A preliminary hearing was held on April 25, 2022. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there’s enough evidence to proceed with a criminal trial.
Following the 5-day preliminary hearing, Judge Samuels decided there was sufficient evidence for Rebecca to stand trial on the following counts:
- 2 counts of murder
- 2 counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence
- 1 count of a hit-and-run resulting in death
Grossman faces 34 years to life in prison if convicted.
It’s important to keep in mind that a criminal case is different from a civil case. In criminal cases, charges are brought by the government with the goal of punishing the person being charged through fines or jail time. Civil cases, on the other hand, are initiated by individuals or companies seeking financial compensation.
A car accident case can be tried in civil court even if no criminal charges are filed against the defendant. What’s more, because civil suits use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is less stringent than the criminal “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, victims of a car accident can recover civil damages even if the criminal court declares the defendant innocent of any crime.
In the present case, the family of Mark and Jacob Iskander will almost certainly file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against Rebecca Grossman, seeking financial compensation.
California hit-and-run laws
California’s hit-and-run laws can be found in California Vehicle Code Sections 20000-20018. Generally speaking, you need to take the following 3 steps to avoid a hit-and-run charge:
- Stop your car immediately. Following an accident, stop your vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists.
- Exchange information. Provide your name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, vehicle registration and insurance policy information to the other driver. If you’re driving a car that doesn’t belong to you, you must also provide the name and address of its owner.
- Get a police report. In California, you’re required to get a police report if the damage is more than $750 or there’s any injury—even a minor one.
A California hit-and-run can be charged as a misdemeanor if the accident resulted in property damage only or a felony if the accident resulted in injury or death.
If you’re convicted of misdemeanor hit-and-run, you might face:
- Up to 3 years probation
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Restitution to the victim
- 2 points on your driving record
If you’re convicted of a felony hit-and-run, you could face:
- $1,000 to $10,000 in fines
- Up to 3 years in California state prison (4 years if the victim was killed or suffered severe injury)
What to do if you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident in California
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident in California, your 1st reaction may be to chase after the fleeing driver. This is never a good idea. Chasing a fleeing driver puts you and everyone else on the road in danger. Instead, follow these steps:
- Move your vehicle to a safe spot off the road if possible.
- Call the police and provide them with any information you have about the hit-and-run vehicle (make, model, color, license plate, distinguishing features, physical description of the driver).
- Contact your insurance company to see if your policy covers hit-and-run accidents.
Meet with a California car accident attorney to discuss your options for recovery. Initial consultations are free, and an experienced car accident attorney can ensure you explore ALL your legal options for recovery.