Stuart Elder sued by family of
women who died in Pebble Beach crash
By KELLY NIX
Published: December 20, 2013
THE FAMILY of two women who died in a
head-on collision in Pebble Beach when alleged drunken driver
Stuart Elder slammed into their car after attending a food and
wine event in Pebble Beach has filed a wrongful death lawsuit
against the driver.
On April 7, Sharon Daly, 72, and Linda Larone, 65, were killed
when Elder, 30, of Pacific Grove, crashed his Cadillac Escalade
into their much smaller Ford Freestyle while they were driving
on Sloat Road near Bird Rock Road.
The lawsuit against Elder was filed Dec. 11 in Monterey County
Superior Court by Anne Margaret Larone, Larone’s mother; Melanie
Robinson, Daly’s niece; and Rhonda Dodge, trustee of the two
women’s trust, according to the suit. The claim alleges Elder
was negligent when he crossed over into Daly’s lane and struck
“Stuart Elder was negligently, carelessly, recklessly or in
some other actionable manner driving the Cadillac Escalade under
the influence of alcohol after spending the afternoon at the
Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival,” the suit contends.
Charges long time in coming
After a lengthy investigation, the Monterey County District
Attorney’s Office charged Elder in November with two counts of
gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of
causing great bodily injury to his passenger, Selvia Gattas, 20.
The civil lawsuit, filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by San
Diego attorney Philip C. Aman, offers some insight into Elder’s
whereabouts before the fatal accident. It also alleges Elder was
driving more than twice the posted speed limit.
Elder and Gattas met with friends for dinner at an undisclosed
restaurant “where alcoholic beverages were consumed by Stuart
Elder,” according to the lawsuit.
The two then left the restaurant and went to the Inn at Spanish
Bay, the suit contends, where more alcohol was consumed. Just
prior to 7 p.m., Elder, “while intoxicated,” left Spanish Bay
with Selvia Gattas and drove off in his Escalade, heading to a
home in Pebble Beach. The suit alleges Elder and Gattas attended
PBF&W from April 5-7 but doesn’t say whether they were at
Spanish Bay for that event.
‘70 in a 25 mph zone’
According to the lawsuit, Elder was driving 70 miles per hour,
much faster than the posted 25 mph, and crossed the double
yellow lines into the northbound lane of Sloat Road.
“Elder continued to travel in the northbound lane at this
excessive speed when his Cadillac Escalade struck the Ford
Freestyle driven by Sharon Daly head on,” causing fatal injuries
to Daly and Larone.
Apart from alleging Elder was driving drunk, the lawsuit
targets the speed at which he was driving the day of the
accident. Elder had a “conscious disregard of the rights and
safety of others” and his conduct was “despicable” and
“constitutes malice,” according to the claim.
Michael Lukehart, a Bakersfield attorney representing Elder in
his criminal case, said Elder is insured and that his insurance
company’s attorneys will handle the civil matter.
While all three defendants, the suit says, have been deprived
of the love, comfort, companionship and moral support that
Larone and Daly provided them, Dodge, who is listed as the
trustee for the women’s trust, has also incurred funeral,
burial, medical and other expenses.
The claim also seeks punitive damages, which can be awarded in
cases where a defendant has caused “malice and oppression.”
Elder owns ECI Building, Inc., a company that builds “custom
homes to large commercial projects,” and did work on actress and
Carmel Valley resident Doris Day’s house, according to its
Daly’s brother, Michael Daly, is also listed as a defendant in
the lawsuit “because he is unable to be joined as a plaintiff in
this action, given that his consent to be joined was sought and
unable to be obtained,” according to the lawsuit.
Daly and Larone were the former owners of Stone’s Pet Shop of
Forest Avenue in Pacific Grove.