Ex-Chili Pepper Klinghoffer sued for wrongful death after "tragic accident"

Josh Klinghoffer
(Image credit: Getty Images/Jeff Kravitz)

Ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is in deep trouble. He’s being sued for wrongful death and negligence, after his car hit and killed a pedestrian earlier this year.

The incident happened in March when 47-year-old Israel Sanchez died after being hit crossing the road in Alhambra, east of Los Angeles. The suit was taken out on Wednesday by Sanchez’s daughter Ashley.

The plaintiff alleges that Klinghoffer was driving a black SUV with no license plates and turned left at an intersection with a marked crossing area. Video footage that the plaintiff has submitted shows a black car hitting a man whilst it is turning. The car then pulls over. It is also alleged that Klinghoffer was on his cellphone whilst he was driving and indeed the footage shows the driver holding an object above the steering wheel.

Sanchez suffered force trauma to his head and died of his injuries in hospital later.

“My dad was known for being a great chef, the most talented of his family, the greatest grandpa always full of love and joy,” Ashley Sanchez said in a press release. “His smile was so infectious. His life was taken by a careless act of a person who didn’t bother to look where he was driving.”

For his part, Klinghoffer’s attorney, Andrew Brettler has called the incident “a tragic accident.”

He told NBC news: “After the car struck the pedestrian, 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.”

As yet no arrests have been made and Alhambra Police spokesperson Sgt Brian Chung said that as the case is still active he could make no further comment.

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Klinghoffer has had a long career spent in or around the centre of LA’s music scene. He spent a decade in the Chili Peppers, joining in 2009 and remaining until 2019 when John Frusciante rejoined. 

At the time he later admitted in an interview with Sirius XM that he was “surprised” by his ejection, though “grateful for all these incredible experiences I’ve had with them for the last ten years.”

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He’s played with Pearl Jam – with whom he’s currently on tour – as well as Warpaint, Jane’s Addiction and the Butthole Surfers. He’s also played on records by figures as varied as Iggy Pop, Morrissey, Gnarls Barkley and Cate Le Bon.

As yet, Klinghoffer has made no comment about the case.

Will Simpson
News and features writer

Will Simpson is a freelance music expert whose work has appeared in Classic Rock, Classic Pop, Guitarist and Total Guitar magazine. He is the author of 'Freedom Through Football: Inside Britain's Most Intrepid Sports Club' and his second book 'An American Cricket Odyssey' is due out in 2025