An early morning car accident in Palm Beach County claimed the lives of two renowned equestrians in South Florida, including Olympic-caliber rider Andres Rodriguez of Venezuela.
The 31-year-old Rodriguez was driving with an amateur rider Sophie Walker, 30, in a gated community near the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in Wellington. Authorities told The Palm Beach Post it was nearly 3:30 a.m. when Rodriguez rounded a curve, lost control of his 1992 Porsche sports car and slammed into a concrete pillar.
Walker was pronounced dead at the scene, while Rodriguez died at the hospital a few hours later. Sheriff’s Office investigators have stated alcohol was a factor in the single-car crash, but have not released the details upon which that assertion is based.
Rodriguez, who was a native of Caracas, Venezuela had been living in Wellington with his new wife, whom he’d just married in December. This past summer, he won a silver medal representing Venezuela at the Pan American Games in Toronto. He also qualified for the summer Olympic games in Rio, having ranked No. 41 globally for his riding skills. He had most recently competed in the Winter Equestrian Festival, as well as at a number of locations in Wellington. Flags at the Global Dressage Stadium in Wellington were lowered to half staff the Monday following the crash.
Walker and her husband operated a horse farm in Wellington.
Investigators believe Rodrigeuz was driving Walker home following a birthday party of a mutual friend.
Although sheriff’s officials did not directly say Rodriguez was at-fault for the crash, they did note he was ticketed on a number of past occasions for speeding. However, all of those citations had been dismissed.
Those who knew Rodriguez say he was “kind” and a “gentleman,” who approached everyone he met – from Olympic riders to janitorial staff – with affability and respect.
Walker was described as someone who was a “passionate equestrian.” A Boston native, she and her husband operated horse farms in both Wellington and Lexington, KY.
If authorities are correct that alcohol was a primary factor in this one-vehicle crash, it would be unlikely that Rodriguez’s surviving family would be able to collect any money from the auto insurance company. Of course, it would depend on the type of policy and the language existing therein, but usually, crashes in which the insured is at-fault – particularly for drunk driving – are not compensable under policy guidelines.
However, Walker’s family in this situation probably would be able to pursue a claim against the insurer and perhaps against Rodriguez’s estate directly for wrongful death. Drivers in Florida are required to carry liability coverage that extends protection to those harmed by at-fault drivers. If the losses exceed the policy limits (which is probable in a wrongful death situation), those affected may consider taking action directly against the at-fault driver and/or the estate. In some cases, it’s only worth it to pursue action against insurers because individuals don’t have the personal assets to cover such losses. This case could be different, though it’s advisable for all involved to consult with a South Florida drunk driving car accident lawyer before deciding how best to proceed.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
World-class equestrian jumper, woman die in Wellington crash, Jan. 4, 2015, By Jorge Milian, Palm Beach Post
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