Virginia State Police continue to investigate two separate fatal single-car crashes that occurred in Berkshire County. In both deadly crashes, reckless driving appears to be the cause and both of the drivers are facing criminal charges.
The first crash took place on Interstate 85, around the 38-mile marker, at 10:00 a.m. An eighteen-year-old woman, from Alexandria, was a passenger in a 2007 Saturn Aura being driven by an 18-year-old female driver from Lorton. The car was heading in the southbound lane when it ran off the left side of the road, slammed into a tree and then flipped over. The victim died at the scene. Another passenger, a 20-year-old man, was ejected from the vehicle and was transported to the hospital with serious injuries. The driver was not injured in the crash. Police have charged her with reckless driving.
Less than 24-hours later, police were called to Route 58, just east of Route 720, at 3:30 a.m. to another single-car crash, and tragically, another victim who died at the scene. According to police, the 20-year-old driver, who is from Chicago, Ill., was driving a 2006 Audi A4 when it ran off the road, hit a culvert, then smashed into two trees before finally coming to a stop. Howard Lee Griffin, a passenger in the car, died in the crash. The 26-year-old victim was from Nashville, Tenn. The driver, who was not injured in the crash, has been charged with reckless driving.
When most people think of deadly car accidents, they usually picture crashes that involve multiple vehicles. But nationally, more than half of all people killed in car accidents are killed in single-vehicle crashes. In Virginia, 60 percent of fatal car crashes involve only one vehicle.
Excessive speeding is one common cause of single-vehicle accidents, but there are also other bad driving behaviors that under Virginia law are considered reckless driving, such as illegal passing, failure to properly use vehicle brakes, and driving with an obstructed view. Conviction of a reckless driving charge carries possible jail time (up to one year), a six-month license suspension, and up to a $2,500 fine.
Not only do reckless drivers put themselves at risk, they also put the lives of their passengers, as well as other commuters on the road, in danger. All too often – such as in the case of both the Berkshire County crashes – it is an innocent passenger who is killed. A person who had no control of how the driver chose to operate that vehicle.
Many of us have been in that situation where we were a passenger in a vehicle where the driver was going too fast or taking dangerous risks, like passing in a no passing zone. And we may have been vocal, telling the driver to stop driving dangerously. One can only imagine the dead victims yelling at the drivers of the vehicles they were in, telling them to slow down or stop what they were doing. But tragically, neither one of those drivers listened. Instead, their friends are dead and two families are struggling with the overwhelming loss of their loved ones.
Regardless of the outcome of any criminal case against these two drivers, both families should contact skilled Virginia wrongful death attorneys to discuss what their legal options may be against the drivers responsible for these deaths. Our Va. injury law firm has successfully represented many victims’ families and understand how devastating these cases can be.