$15 million awarded in civil suit for women killed by big rig

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Lawyers announced Thursday that a family was awarded $15 million by a Kern County jury in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Cynthia Paregien, 55, and her 28-year-old daughter Tiffany Paregien were pedestrians killed by a semitruck in December 2010. The women were crossing Panama Road at Union Avenue when a big rig with two trailers approached, made a right-hand turn and hit them.

"There were pedestrians legally in the crosswalk," California Highway Patrol Officer Elena Demarrah said at the time.

Witnesses said that after the crash, the driver of the big rig never stopped.

Attorneys representing Tiffany Paregien's two children identified the truck driver as Antonio Oliva. He was working for Emiliano Perez and E&M Trucking, they said.

"This terrible tragedy could have been averted, but this verdict will allow for some relief for the family and hopefully some measure of closure," Ricardo Echeverria of Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Bentley LLP said in a news release.

Kern County Assistant District Attorney Scott Spielman told Eyewitness News on Thursday that criminal charges couldn't be filed because they couldn't adequately prove that the truck driver knew he had hit anyone.