Fatal Rollover Kills Member of Rock Band

Date: August 2, 2010
Location: I-5 near Medford, Oregon
Names: Makh (Matikeef) P. Daniels, Justin H. Garcia, Tyler S. Jensen, John S. Strachan, Matthew J. O’Brien, Daniel P. Sheddon, Adam T. Campbell, Alex Hernandez

A tour van carrying nine musicians from two California metal bands, Early Graves and Funeral Pyre, crashed August 2, 2010 on I-5 near Medford, Oregon, killing one band member and injuring two others, according to an OSP press release.

The crash happened around 5:30 AM as the van traveled southbound, pulling a utility trailer. Inside the van were five members of Early Graves and four members of Funeral Pyre. They were reportedly driving from Eugene, Oregon to Reno, Nevada after playing a weekend outdoor concert.

State police believe the van’s driver, Justin H. Garcia, 24, of Fresno, California, fell asleep at the wheel. The van and trailer traveled off the right shoulder, where it rolled over, coming to rest in a grassy area off the freeway.

Makh (Matikeef) P. Daniels, 28, of Pacifica, California, who was lying in a rear cargo area with two others, was thrown from the van. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Garcia and passenger Tyler S. Jensen, 21, of Livermore, California (a guitarist for Early Graves) sustained non-life threatening injuries, and were taken by ambulance to Rogue Valley Medical Center.

The other occupants of the van, none of whom were injured, are:

John S. Strachan, 26, Long Beach, California (Funeral Pyre)
Adam T. Campbell, age 27, from Brae, California (Funeral Pyre)
Alex Hernandez, age 27, city of residence unavailable (Funeral Pyre)
Matthew J. O’Brien, age 28, from San Francisco, California (Early Graves)
Daniel P. Sheddon, age 27, from San Francisco, California (Early Graves)
Christopher M. Brock, age 23, from San Ramon, California (Early Graves)

Police said they were continuing to investigate, and will review the results with Jackson County District Attorney’s Office for enforcement consideration.

We offer our sympathy to Daniels’ family and friends. We also send wishes of healing to Jensen and Garcia.

Daniels’ bandmates and fans are mourning the death of a man the band describes as “incredibly funny” and an “amazing writer.” The heavy metal website The Gauntlet, however, is asking whether Daniels’ death could have been prevented. Looking at Funeral Pyre’s touring schedule, the group performed an exhausting show, then had to get to another show, 550 miles away, in a single day, requiring a 12-14 hour drive over rugged, mountainous terrain, with no stops. The author wonders, “Should Funeral Pyre’s booking agent be held responsible for Makh Daniels’ death?”

Right now this is an open question – one of many. But if you unfortunately find yourself in a situation involving wrongful death, here are some important considerations:

Wrongful death claims are allowed by law. ORS 30.010-30.100.

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is tricky. It is “three years after the injury causing the death . . . is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. . . .” In other words, it’s not three years from the date of death; it’s three years from the date of the original injury that ultimately caused the death. If a person goes into a coma from a car crash, and dies eight months later, the case will have to be brought within three years from the date of the car crash, not from the date of the death.

If a city, state, county, or other public body is being sued, a Tort Claim Notice must be received by the entity being sued within 180 days of the injury.

Compensation available includes charges for medical expenses; memorial and burial services; compensation for the person’s pain, suffering, disability, and loss of income from the time of the injury through the time of death; financial losses to the person’s family or other heirs; compensation for the loss of companionship and services to the person’s spouse, children, stepchildren, stepparents and parents; and punitive damages may sometimes be available as well.

The law caps the amount of noneconomic damages at $500,000. This does not apply to economic damages, which are not capped.

If you have additional questions, please contact our Portland wrongful death attorneys. We’ll be happy to assist.