An attempt to assist a disabled motorist turned into a fatal tragedy on the Inner Loop of I-485 around Charlotte, North Carolina (NC), early on the morning of March 6, 2016. A Good Samaritan who pulled over between the exits for U.S. 29 and University City Boulevard to help a woman whose car had blown a tire was struck and killed by a van shortly after stepping out of his own vehicle.
Police took the van's driver into custody but did not immediately file charges. News reports indicate that authorities were waiting on the results of alcohol and drug tests to make an announcement regarding possible driving and traffic offenses.
Even if the person behind the wheel of the van was not driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, the person could still be found at fault for falling asleep while driving, becoming distracted and running onto the shoulder, or failing to obey North Carolina's move over law. That statute requires drivers approaching traffic stops, accident scenes and road work to reduce their speed and, when possible, change lanes in order to protect the people on the side of the road.
Interstate drivers who become pedestrians following crashes or mechanical failures put themselves at risk from negligent and reckless people in other vehicles. At 70 mph, it takes mere seconds for a small error or a brief moment of inattention to turn deadly. Everyone must watch for motorists in trouble and emergency responders and give them the time and space needed to remain safe.