Erica Hills---61 Killed by--loose trailer..." The brakes on the trailer were "in inoperable, and/or in an unsafe condition," the lawsuit asserts. "Corrosion permeated the trailer and component parts critical to maintaining a secure connection to the truck; a required safety pin and/or chain necessary to prevent separation of the truck/trailer combination was missing, non-operational or simply not installed.

Donald Karol Director Of Highway Safety In California at this time never disclosed this accident to us!  Now he is in charge of NTSB.. Highway Safety Why no action?
We know how to have prevented Erica Hills DEATH!!! OUR own government  has chosen to prevent us from telling the truth!!! They take no action...NO safety standards on this critical issue....we ask why?
What has this company...Hills Brothers Coffee done to help prevent others from suffering the same faith?

See this letter....
First Name : angel
Last Name : Redacted
Address Street 1 : Redacted
Address Street 2 :
City : ventura
Zip Code :
State : CA Daytime Phone : Redacted
Evening Phone : Redacted
Email : REdacted....
Comments : my niece just recently passed away because of trailer hitting
the car my sister was driving , she was only 6 , our lives have been
devasted over our loss , iam so angry at the man who caused this
accident , i want to know how i can help so this dosent happen again , i
also want to know how to make new laws for this, i want a law called
eminas law , how can i do this for our family and so this tragedy dosent
happen to anyone else loved ones , i want to be very educated on this ,
i want new laws passed and i also again i state i want a law called
eminas law, i want this not to happen to anyone else , i hope this makes
since , thank you for your time , and being with us through all of this
, thank you for your support



    SAN FRANCISCO / Family of socialite killed in wreck sues trucking firm, driver / Death blamed on alleged condition of pickup, trailer

    September 14, 2005|By Michael Taylor, Chronicle Staff Writer
    • Erika Hills (right) was killed Aug. 17 when a trailer detached from a truck and hit her vehicle near her Napa home.
      Erika Hills (right) was killed Aug. 17 when a trailer detached from a truck and hit her vehicle near her Napa home.
      Credit: Thomas J. Gibbons/Special to the

    The family of Erika Hills, the San Francisco socialite who was killed in a bizarre traffic accident in Napa County, has filed a wrongful death suit against the trucking firm and driver whose heavy trailer nearly ripped her Mercedes-Benz in half last month.

    The suit, filed Monday in Napa County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages from equipment and construction businesses owned by Glen and Shirley Ragsdale and from Arnulfo Avina, the driver of the Ragsdales' truck and trailer.

    Hills, 61, was married to Austin Edward Hills, whose family founded the Hills Brothers coffee company.

    On the morning of Aug. 17, she was driving south on the Silverado Trail, about 5 miles from her Napa home, when a "fifth wheel" trailer became disconnected from a northbound Dodge Ram pickup truck that was hauling it. The trailer, containing about 5 tons of equipment for drilling wine cellar caves, slammed into Hills' 1997 E420 Mercedes, killing Hills and "almost splitting the car in half," according to California Highway Patrol Officer Gerald Rico.

    Avina, who is 29, was not injured, and the CHP said at the time of the crash that drugs or alcohol did not appear to have been involved.

    Burlingame attorney Frank Pitre, who filed the suit on behalf of Hills' husband and the couple's children, Austin Eric Hills and Justin Hills, focused his complaint on the alleged "dangerous condition" of the truck and trailer.

    The brakes on the trailer were "in inoperable, and/or in an unsafe condition," the lawsuit asserts. "Corrosion permeated the trailer and component parts critical to maintaining a secure connection to the truck; a required safety pin and/or chain necessary to prevent separation of the truck/trailer combination was missing, non-operational or simply not installed.

    "The tragedy which resulted in the death of Erika Hills was not only a foreseeable consequence of the premises, it was predictable," Pitre's lawsuit says. "On the date in question, a five-ton time bomb in the form of a lethal truck/trailer assembly was unleashed on the Silverado Trail, and thereupon was launched and detonated to kill an unsuspecting Erika Hills."

    Defendant Glen Ragsdale said, "My only comment is that it's a tragic accident, very unfortunate." He referred The Chronicle to his insurance broker, who did not immediately return phone calls.

    On Tuesday, the CHP said its investigation into the accident had not yet been completed.

    NAPA / S.F. socialite killed when trailer hits car / She dies instantly in head-on crash

    August 18, 2005|By Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer

      • Erika Hills, 61, was married to a member of the family that started Hills Brothers coffee.
        Erika Hills, 61, was married to a member of the family that started Hills Brothers coffee.

      A popular San Francisco society maven and philanthropist was killed Wednesday in Napa when an 18-foot trailer loaded with drilling equipment broke loose from a truck bed and slammed head-on into her car.

      Erika Hills, 61, was pronounced dead shortly after the 11:24 a.m. crash, which closed the two-lane Silverado Trail, a half-mile north of Oak Knoll Avenue, for three hours.

      The 5-ton trailer cut right through her car, killing her instantly, according to Officer Gerald Rico of the California Highway Patrol.

      Hills, whose husband is from the family that started Hills Brothers coffee, was southbound on the Silverado Trail, five miles from her home in Napa, when the accident occurred.

      The "fifth wheel" trailer, pulled by a three-ton Dodge Ram truck heading north, began whipping back and forth, according to witnesses. It somehow disconnected from the bed of the truck, skidded left and slammed into Hills' 1997 Mercedes.

      "It went from the front fender through the Mercedes, almost splitting the car in half," Rico said. "The left doors were ripped from their hinges, and she was ejected from the vehicle."

      The trailer, which was hauling equipment used to drill caves for wine cellars, then struck another car traveling behind Hills, flipping over the vehicle, Rico said. Terrance Koh, 32, and Anita Chin, 33, who were visiting the Wine Country from Washington state, were treated at St. Helena Hospital for minor injuries.

      The truck driver, 29-year-old Arnulfo Avina of Angwin, was not injured.

      The accident happened on a straightaway. Alcohol or drugs do not appear to be factors, and there were no reports of speeding, according to Rico. It could not be determined whether Hills was wearing a seat belt, but, Rico said, it would not have made a difference.

      "We're investigating how the fifth wheel became detached from the truck," Rico said. "No charges are pending at this time, and no arrests have been made. "

      Hills was known and beloved, according to friends, for her bohemian flair and sense of fun despite the fact that she circulated among San Francisco's high society. She hosted social events and fundraisers at her Tuscan-style villa in Napa and at her other home in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood, but, friends said, she never took herself too seriously.

      She was a prominent supporter of the Opera and was on the board of Cal Performances in Berkeley. Among her friends was Gottfried Helnwein, a German artist who recently had a show in San Francisco.

      A home design expert, she once owned Erika Hills antiques in St. Helena. Her husband, Austin Hills, once worked for the family business, Hills Brothers coffee, and is now co-proprietor and chairman of the board of Grgich Hills Cellar winery in Rutherford. Family members have made regular appearances through the years in the society columns.

      NAPA / Socialite likely using seat belt, CHP says

      August 19, 2005|By Peter Fimrite

      A well known San Francisco society maven and philanthropist who was killed when a trailer broke loose from a truck bed and slammed head-on into her car was, in all likelihood, wearing a seat belt when she was ejected from the vehicle, according to the California Highway Patrol.

      Erika Hills, 61, whose husband is from the family that started Hills Brothers coffee, was killed instantly in the crash, which occurred at 11:24 a. m. Wednesday on the Silverado Trail, a half-mile north of Oak Knoll Avenue.


      The 5-ton trailer cut right through her car, killing her instantly, according to CHP Officer Gerald Rico. He said investigators were still trying to determine why the 5-ton trailer separated from the commercial truck that was pulling it.

      Rico said Hills' body had been found five feet away from what was left of her 1997 Mercedes. Although the seat belt itself was gone, he said, the belt's metal clip was still snapped into the receiver.

      "We're basically going to roll with she probably had it on," Rico said, adding that the seat belt's presence or absence wouldn't have changed the outcome.

      NO ACTION.......NO SAFETY BOOK.....NOTHING!!!!! EXCEPT TRY AND DESTROY OUR CAUSE!!!!!! HOW MANY MORE NEED TO DIE BEFORE WE GET THE HELP WE NEED TO SAVE LIVES!!!
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