The family of a woman who died in a Torrance car crash over the summer has continued calling for answers nearly four months after filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against an off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who, the filing says, was behind the wheel at the time.
The parents of Redondo Beach resident Ashley Marie Wells, 23, held a recent press conference to discuss details of the lawsuit they filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in July, about three weeks after the crash that killed their daughter.
The defendant, Daniel Auner, “operated the vehicle in a reckless, wanton and dangerous manner,” the lawsuit says.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is currently not named as a defendant, declined to say whether Auner was the deputy involved, but a spokesperson did say the deputy tied to the incident was on paid administrative leave.
The Torrance Police Department, which conducted the investigation, had not confirmed Auner was the deputy involved in the crash, either.
Auner, 22, could not be reached for comment and his attorney did not return multiple requests for comment.
The suit seeks monetary damages.
The crash occurred shortly after midnight on July 8. A 22-year-old man was driving a 2015 Dodge Charger, with four passengers, north on Crenshaw Boulevard when the car went over the center median and crashed into a light pole at 190th Street, Torrance police have said. Wells died and two others were seriously injured.
“I dropped my daughter off that night (July 7) to meet some friends at Hennessey’s in Hermosa Beach,” Duane Alan, Wells’ father, said during a recent press conference. “While they were there, they met (the Dodge driver) and his friend. They took an Uber later to Buffalo Wild Wings at the Del Amo Shopping Center for more drinks.”
No one has been arrested or charged, a Torrance Police Department spokesperson said.
Wells’ family has continued looking for answers they say law enforcement hasn’t provided. During that recent press conference, at Torrance City Hall, Wells’ parents were joined by Mayor Pat Furey and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles.
Auner was under the influence of alcohol when he got behind the wheel, the lawsuit says.
“The Wells family,” Waters said, “is simply demanding that the Torrance Police Department and the Los Angeles County sheriff’s office immediately take the appropriate steps to hold the officer accountable.”
The Torrance Police Department declined to discuss details of the investigation.
But the family’s attorney, Michael Parker, criticized the handling of the investigation.
“It’s shocking to me, and it disgusts the family and it disgusts my office that nothing was done here that should have been done,” Parker said. “But what should have happened is there should have been an investigation.
“Just because somebody is a sheriff’s deputy doesn’t mean they should get any different treatment than a normal citizen,” he added. “That’s what we believe, and the family believes is happening here.”
Furey defended the department’s work.
“The Torrance Police Department has investigated this case thoroughly,” Furey said. “It has been presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.”
The DA’s Office did not return requests for comment.