Family of fatal New Year’s Eve crash victim, Chain | Cohn | Stiles speak about dangers of impaired driving

February 23, 2021 | 4:04 pm


The year 2020 is a year many of us are glad is in the past, but for the families of three young people who died in a New Year’s Eve crash, they would give anything to go back in time. And one of those local families is hoping their kind of loss is the last in our community.

The family of Andrew Ortiz – mother Sasha McKeen, stepfather Steven McKeen, and father Michael Ortiz – recently spoke with Jeff Platt at KBAK-29 Eyewitness News about the crash, their son, and the dangers of driving under the influence and unbuckled. They were joined also by Matt Clark, accident and injury attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

Adam Teasdale, 21, was charged with three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of DUI causing bodily injury for the crash at Brimhall Road and Jewetta Avenue in northwest Bakersfield that killed Timothy Michael Wilson, Devin Lee Atha and Andrew Nicholas Ortiz, all 20. A fourth passenger suffered minor injuries.

Police said they believe Teasdale was driving about 60 mph when he swerved and lost control. The car went onto the raised concrete median and slammed into a tree, according to reports. The three people in the back were thrown through the window.

Police found “whip-it” canisters of nitrous oxide — which provide a brief high by inhaling the gas — and a bottle of consumed Fireball Whiskey at the crash scene, according to the media reports. A nitrous oxide canister was also found in one of Teasdale’s pockets.

“I just killed my friends,” he said, according to a witness who lives near where the crash. “Why did I swerve.”

Teasdale refused to take any field sobriety tests at the scene, according to media reports, and would only consent to a blood draw if he was arrested. One officer stated that Teasdale “displayed sings of being under the influence of alcohol.” He also said the devil was inside him.

Teasdale is being held on $1 million bail and is due in court March 26. He has pleaded not guilty.

“You may be lucky 99 times out of 100, but that last time your luck may run out,” Michael Ortiz, father of Andrew Ortiz, said in a statement. “I’m heartbroken by this tragedy. I hope someone will learn from it, and make a good decision to not drive impaired.”

Following the fatal crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Kern County also shared with media other dangers and consequences of impaired driving, including hefty fines, court costs, attorney’s fees and suspension of a license. It’s much cheaper, and safer, to call an Uber or Lyft for a ride home.

“No one has to get behind the wheel if they have been drinking or impaired by drugs, it is that simple,” said Michael Yraceburn, board member for the MADD Kern County Advisory Board.

Since 2009, our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States.

“We suffer a lot here in Kern County, Bakersfield area from the tragic loss of impaired driving,” Yraceburn said. “Protect yourself and protect those that you love.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles for many years has partnered with MADD Kern County to combat DUI crashes. Since the law firm’s involvement with the first Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash, MADD Kern County has raised nearly $400,000 to help local victims of impaired driving crashes. For its work, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has been recognized and honored on several occasions, including receiving a “Community Champion” award and “Pursuit of Justice” award, among others.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Chain | Cohn | Stiles helps raise more than $50K to help local victims of DUI crashes in Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K

September 23, 2015 | 9:24 am


More than 500 Kern County community members — including dozens from the law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles — joined together Saturday morning at the Park at River Walk to help put an end to drunken driving locally, and in the process raised more than $50,000 to support victims of DUI crashes.

The Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K aims to raise awareness in our own community, raise funds to stop drunken driving and underage drinking locally, and provide support to victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes. Saturday’s event brought together surviving victims of DUI crashes, families and friends of deceased victims, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and other community members rallying and running for the cause.

Medals were given to the fastest runners in their age categories, with results being posted on the Bakersfield Track Club website. Awards were also given to the top fundraisers. They were:

  • Top Friends and Family Team: MADD Dogs
  • Top Individual Fundraiser: Michael Yraceburn
  • Top Corporate Team: Kern Schools Federal Credit Union
  • Kern County Law Enforcement Challenge Winner: Kern County District Attorney’s Office

“We want to thank our advocates, heroes, champions, partners, teams, participants and volunteers for making Kern County’s Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash 5K a huge success,” said Carla Pearson, victim advocate for MADD Kern County. “We hope Kern County will commit to continue alongside us for the next 365 days as we work to prevent this 100 percent preventable crime, and end drunk driving here.”

Chain | Cohn | Stiles joined as the gold sponsor for the event. Several other local businesses also joined the fight to end drunk driving in Kern County, including Chevron and Kern Schools Federal Credit Union. For a full list of sponsors, click here.

The firm brought together more than 40 employees, friends and family members of employees, and a few clients of the firm, who are innocent victims of DUI crashes.

Several friends of the law firm donated to the Chain | Cohn | Stiles team. Their generosity is much appreciated. They included:

  • Dr. Geoffrey Miller
  • Tom Stevenson
  • Chad Barger

Several Chain | Cohn | Stiles employees also competed in the 5K race. Attorney Matt Clark finished in 11th place overall, and a family member of a firm employee finished in the top 10. For a complete race results list, click here. Below is the top 10 finishers, and their times:

  • Kelly Blikre: 20:21
  • Stacy Phelps: 20:39
  • Garrett Sugimoto 20:49
  • Carl Hatley: 21:05
  • Mark Riehle: 22:03
  • Arjan Ynostroza: 22:09
  • Adam Martinez: 22:12
  • Garrett Rice: 22:43
  • Laila Irogoyen: 23:09
  • Vernie Herman: 23:12

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MEDIA COVERAGE