Category: Amazon.comblogging about bloggingFalling Down Funny BookMark HawkinsSeizuresUncategorized Comments: 2 comments

At two o’clock in the afternoon, on February 2, 2014, Armando Arias Gonzalez Jr. was driving on East Covell Boulevard in Yolo County, California when he had a seizure. His car struck and killed Ruth Darlene Morales. In his post-seizure state, Mr. Gonzalez drove away and almost immediately got into another accident, injuring a mother and daughter. He was promptly arrested (1).

According to his brother, Mr. Gonzalez had been seizure free for more than six months (2), which, according to California law, made him a lawful driver. The law regarding epilepsy and driving in California reads as follows (3):

“No probation is needed for drivers who have achieved six or more months of control and there are no coexisting medication conditions that would aggravate the driver’s seizures or impair the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.”

According to the information released thus far, Mr. Gonzalez has not tested positive for drugs or alcohol. This is simply the case of a man having a breakthrough seizure, which resulted in a sad and horrible death. But the District Attorney of Yolo County sees it differently. Deputy District Attorney Amanda Zambor has denied Mr. Gonzalez’s request to go home to see his baby born and denied his request for a lower bail. She believes him to be a “flight risk” because he kept driving his car after the first accident, an act brought on by his absence seizure (4).

Furthermore, she wants to raise his charges to second-degree murder, a sentence that will carry a twenty-year sentence in the state of California (5). “He knows the risks and continues to drive and put other people in danger,” commented the Deputy District Attorney.

California State Law says that Gonzalez is allowed to drive. However, in doing so, in the eyes of the District Attorney, he is a criminal. As are, I must conclude, all epileptics because breakthrough seizures are a risk every single one of us must consider.

This is the attitude of this public official where epileptics are concerned. Just going about our lives we are to be viewed as “a danger.” We are to be avoided. And, if something goes wrong, we will be prosecuted as such.

Yet Ethan Couch was recently given probation after his car accident killed four. His defense? He was raised “wealthy” and did not understand the consequences of his actions (6). Andelina Kristina Hecimovic was driving approximately 100 miles an hour when she hit and killed two teenagers. She was found not guilty of vehicular homicide (7). Alabama State Trooper Heath Moss hit another car while driving 120 miles per hour killing two. Not guilty (8).

And what about this man, who was driving legally, and, at this point, according to reports, well within the posted speed limit, with a documented medical condition? Is he a murderer? What message does this send to the three million of us around the country?

It says, “The law doesn’t matter. You are all criminals in our eyes.”

How are epileptics to raise awareness and show the world that we are not to be feared if our public officials deny us fair and impartial treatment under the law? How do we expect the public to accept our condition when public officials compare our state of being as the same as that of criminals? How can we expect even the most basic human rights when Armando Arias Gonzalez Jr. isn’t even being allowed his normal medication while in jail (2)?

Sometimes I wonder what the point is writing a blog and trying to highlight the difficulties of being epileptic when powerful people still see us as “abnormal.” In my opinion, this is a story where everyone came out a loser and the District Attorney ended up on the bottom. I only wish she knew what it was like to live in fear of falling down.

POST SCRIPT: On February 16, on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EpilepsyFoundationofAmerica), this blog was being discussed and The Epilepsy Foundation Of America moderators commented that this case had been forwarded to their Legal Defense Fund. Kudos to the Epilepsy Foundation for all of their great work. Please support them.

1 – http://www.sacbee.com/2014/02/02/6122515/woodland-man-arrested-in-two-car.html
2 -http://www.reddit.com/r/Epilepsy/comments/1xb537/do_you_guys_agree_that_epilepsy_is_comparable_to/
3 – http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/driversafety/lapes.htm
4 – http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/crime-fire-courts/family-davis-crash-victim-was-sharp-independent/

5 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_punishments_for_murder_in_the_United_States#California

6 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/ethan-couch-sentenced_n_4426722.html

7 – http://www.mapleridgenews.com/news/224333321.html

8 – http://www.waaytv.com/news/local/not-guilty-verdict-in-trooper-moss-trial-angers-victims-family/article_5d1f1bf0-532b-11e3-a58f-001a4bcf6878.html


  • Adrian Gonzalez  says:

    Just an update. Armando was convicted of 2nd degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter. We are working on an appeal.

    • Mark Hawkins  says:

      I saw that. So sad. I wish you the best of luck with your appeal and sincerely hope things go well.


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