A man died after a minivan ran off the road in Franklin County, Virginia (VA), and struck him as he mowed his lawn on the afternoon of July 11, 2017. The deadly wreck happened on Route 949/Lakewood Forest Drive near the town of Moneta.
Virginia State Police received the call about a collision between a passenger vehicle and a riding mower a little before 3 pm. Troopers found 70-year-old Thomas Preston Scott dead from the injuries he suffered after the minivan ran onto the left shoulder of Lakewood Forest Drive and into his yard.
The at-fault driver, identified in news reports as a 72-year-old woman who lives in Roanoke, remained on the scene but was not immediately charged with any crimes or traffic violations. Law enforcement officials and traffic safety research call these kinds of wrecks road departure crashes. According to a pamphlet for road engineers published by the Federal Highway Administration, “Each year roadway departure crashes account for more than half of United States highway fatalities and involve a vehicle that crosses an edge line, center line, or otherwise leaves the traveled way.”
The agency lists the leading three causes of roadway departure crashes as speeding around curves, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, and becoming distracted behind the wheel. State Police investigators will need to look into each as an explanation for why the fatal wreck happened in Franklin County. They should also consider whether the minivan driver’s age and health increased her risks for running off the road and causing a collision with a person, another vehicle or a fixed object like a tree or building.
Regardless of the basic cause, the real problem in this deadly minivan-riding mower crash in Franklin County was failure to maintain control. Section 46.2-853 of the Virginia Code notes that “a person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a vehicle which is not under proper control or which has inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes on any highway in the Commonwealth.”
Any finding that the minivan driver did not keep her vehicle under proper control while traveling along Lakewood Forest Drive would give the family of the man who lost his life strong grounds for filing a wrongful death insurance claim or civil lawsuit. Consulting with an experienced Virginia wrongful death attorney would help the family understand and act on the legal options to seek compensation and damages.