Saturday, October 21 , 2017, 1:05 pm | Fair 66º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Family Of Lompoc Couple Killed In Crash Settles Lawsuit

Children of Ruben and Bertha Betancourt will receive $1.6 million

A memorial was set up near the site where Bertha and Ruben Betancourt were killed in a head-on collision in August 2016. Click to view larger
A memorial was set up near the site where Bertha and Ruben Betancourt were killed in a head-on collision in August 2016. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

The children of a couple killed in a head-on collision near the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex last summer have settled a civil lawsuit against the driver and a rental car company for $1.6 million.

The lawsuit filed in December on behalf of the family of Ruben and Bertha Betancourt in Santa Barbara County Superior Court named EAN Holdings Inc. and Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company of Los Angles along with the driver, Shaquille Lindsey of Newton County, Georgia.

However, earlier this month the Betancourt family attorney filed a request for full dismissal with prejudice, typically a sign the plaintiffs and defendants reached an out-of-court settlement.

One of the Betancourts' attorneys, Ryan Harris, founder of Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, confirmed a settlement had been reached.

“This is a tragic case,” Harris said. “There were four adult children that lost their mom and their dad at the same time in the same horrific accident.”

The claim named Lindsey as the driver of the Dodge Challenger that was traveling south on Santa Lucia Canyon Road more than 20 mph over the speed limit at 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 28.

At the time of impact, Lindsey’s vehicle was going at least 63 mph and had crossed over the double, solid-yellow lane markings, without braking, when he hit the Betancourts’ vehicle head-on, according to the lawsuit.

The children of Bertha and Ruben Betancourt settled a civil lawsuit against the other driver in the fatal collision.
The children of Bertha and Ruben Betancourt settled a civil lawsuit against the other driver in the fatal collision.  (Facebook photo)

The civil case alleged Lindsey was under the influence at the time of the crash. 

The crash killed Ruben Betancourt, 51, and his wife, Bertha Betancourt, 57. One of their sons, Juan Betancourt, suffered serious injuries. 

The lawsuit filed by Ranger Wiens from Harris Personal Injury Lawyers Inc. included five causes of action:  negligence due to wrongful death, survival action, punitive damages, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The plaintiffs —identified as Juan Betancourt, Jose Betancourt, Rubi Betancourt and Teresa Servin — sought general damages, special damages to cover funeral, burial and other costs, economic damages, medical expenses and costs of the lawsuit.

Lindsey was on vacation visiting friends at Vandenberg Air Force Base to celebrate his birthday, Harris said. 

He had rented a vehicle he driving at the time of the crash, according to Harris.

The civil settlement comes from Lindsey’s insurance plus additional insurance he purchased for the rental car.

Some of the settlement also comes from the rental car company although federal law limits the exposure in a civil lawsuit to $15,000, Harris said. 

Lindsey was represented in the civil suit by Alan J. Carnegie and Nita A. Lee from the Los Angeles law firm of Daniels, Fine, Israel, Schonbuch & Lebovits, LLP.

Enterprise and EAN Holdings were represented by Celeste Brecht, Matthew Gurvitz and Justin Nemeroff, all from Venable LLP.

The family of a Lompoc couple killed last year on Santa Lucia Canyon Road has settled a civil lawsuit against the driver, Shaquille Lindsey of Newton County, Georgia, and a rental-car company. Click to view larger
The family of a Lompoc couple killed last year on Santa Lucia Canyon Road has settled a civil lawsuit against the driver, Shaquille Lindsey of Newton County, Georgia, and a rental-car company. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department photo)

Whether Lindsey will face criminal charges remains uncertain.

In an unusual twist, the Air Force investigated the crash since the military has jurisdiction of the public road. 

Vandenberg Air Force Base officials have remained mum about the cause of the crash, only saying the investigation was ongoing.

Until the civil lawsuit, the second driver’s name and the fact the car had been rented remained unknown

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >