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Ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer Faces Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over Car Incident

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Josh Klinghoffer, a former guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is facing a wrongful death lawsuit over allegations that he struck and killed a pedestrian near Los Angeles earlier this year due to “distracted driving.”

Filed in Los Angeles court Wednesday (July 10), the case claims that Klinghoffer was driving a black 2022 GMC Yukon with no license plates on March 18 in Alhambra, Calif., when he took a left turn and struck 47-year-old Israel Sanchez in a crosswalk. Sanchez later died of his injuries.

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“Video of the incident shows that defendant Josh Adam Klinghoffer made no braking or slowing motion until after he fatally struck Israel Sanchez, indicating that defendant was likely driving while distracted,” lawyers for the victim’s daughter, Ashley, write in the complaint, obtained by Billboard. “This horrible outcome was foreseeable and demonstrates a willful disregard for the rights and safety of others.”

Sanchez’s lawyers claim they have video evidence that shows that Klinghoffer was “using a device mere seconds before he crashed” into Sanchez.

The lawsuit claims that Klinghoffer was not arrested after the incident, left for a tour with his band, and has never reached out to Sanchez’s family: “He has shown no remorse for his behavior.”

In a statement to Billboard, Klinghoffer’s attorney Andrew Brettler said: “This was a tragic accident. After which, Josh immediately pulled over, stopped the vehicle, called 911, and waited until police and the ambulance arrived. He is fully cooperating with the traffic investigation.”

After serving as a touring guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the late 2000s, Klinghoffer joined the band as a full-time member in 2010 to replace longtime guitarist John Frusciante. But in 2019, after performing on two studio albums, he was fired by his bandmates after Frusciante chose to return to the group. He later served as a touring musician for Pearl Jam and has released solo material under the pseudonym Pluralone.

In technical terms, the lawsuit accuses Klinghoffer of wrongful death and negligence — meaning that he allegedly knew that what he was doing was dangerous but did it anyway.

“Klinghoffer … was more focused on his personal business than on acting as a responsible driver,” the lawsuit says. “These decisions culminated in the motor vehicle, inflicting fatal injuries on decedent, who
died a horrific and excruciating death.”

The complaint does not specify how much the family is seeking in monetary damages.

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