Two older female pedestrians died and a third suffered injuries requiring medical treatment when a driver ran off the road and hit them in Bland County, Virginia (VA). The at-fault driver fled the scene but was arrested at her home later in the day and charged with multiple crimes.
The deadly pedestrian accident happened near the intersection of Wilderness Road and Price Ridge Road in the Hollybrook community. According to police, the three women had moved onto the shoulder and arranged themselves in a single file facing traffic when they saw a Ford Thunderbird coming toward them a little after 8:40 am on February 20, 2017.
The driver swerved into the ditch for unknown reasons, causing the pedestrian who survived the incident to dive to the side, although she was struck. The women behind her, who were in their sixties, could not move out of the way in time to avoid suffering fatal injuries. Both died at the scene.
When police took the at-fault driver into custody, they charged her with failing to report an accident, reckless driving and three counts of felony hit and run. The reckless charge arises from law enforcement officials' determination that she had, in the phrasing of the applicable state statute, operated “in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of [a] person.”
Her hit-and-run driving rose to the level of a felony because she failed to comply with the statutory requirement to check on anyone who might have been hurt in the crash. Specifically, section 46.2-984 of the Virginia Code, mandates that any driver involved in a wreck must remain at the scene to speak with police and “shall also render reasonable assistance to any person injured in such accident, including taking such injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital if it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary or is requested by the injured person.”
The stretch of Wilderness Road through Bland County where these hit-and-run fatalities occurred has two lanes and narrow shoulders. The pedestrians reportedly followed all the proper safety rules by facing oncoming traffic and stepping as far into the grassy border as possible when a car approached. This could not save two of them from the reckless behavior of the driver, who then compounded her harmful error by fleeing the scene and the abandoning the crash victims without even alerting emergency medical personnel.
Regardless of how the criminal charges get resolved the surviving pedestrian and the families of the women who lost their lives could benefit from consulting with a Virginia personal injury and wrongful death attorney. Holding the hit-and-run driver accountable will be easier with advice and representation from an experienced plaintiff’s lawyer.