A suspected drunk driver crashed into a group of college track and field athletes in York County, Virginia (VA). The wreck killed one student athlete and seriously injured two others.
According to news reports, the fatal collision happened as the students from Tennessee’s Milligan University trained for a meet at William & Mary. A total of five runners, including a coach, were struck.
Virginia State Police responded to reports of the collision on Williamsburg Pottery Road near the intersection with Lightfoot Road. Troopers noted that the at-fault driver had fled the scene, but they quickly located the red Toyota Scion after its driver crashed into the median on Route 199.
All the runners initially survived. One, identified as 20-year-old Eli Cramer, succumbed to his injuries after being transported to Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Another student athlete was treated and released, and a third member of the team was admitted to the hospital.
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Cramer graduated from Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro, TN, before joining the track team at Milligan, a small Christian liberal arts school in Elizabethtown.
According to statements from the state police, troopers found the fleeing driving intoxicated. That individual, named in news reports as 26-year-old Jose Mancia, currently faces a long list of criminal charges that included driving under the influence, DUI manslaughter, DUI maiming, felony hit and run, reckless driving and refusal to submit breath, urine and blood samples for drug and alcohol testing. Law enforcement officials obtained a warrant to draw blood without the suspect’s explicit consent.
Drivers Have a Duty to Protect Pedestrians Everywhere
Williamsburg Pottery Road lacks sidewalks and bike lanes. It also has fairly narrow shoulders. Despite these seemingly pedestrian-unfriendly features, drivers will often encounter joggers and bicyclists along the tree-lined road.
Virginia state law treats bicycles largely the same as motor vehicles, giving bicyclists the right to use pretty much all roads except interstate highways. Pedestrians and runners can use any roadway as long as they stay as close to the right-hand shoulder as possible, face into oncoming traffic, and, at night, wear reflective clothing.
Of course, driving drunk will render anyone less able to spot and avoid crashing into bike riders, pedestrians or anything else. The fatal DUI hit-and-run collision in York County harshly illustrates the worst that can happen when people drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
My Virginia Beach-based personal injury and wrongful death law firm colleagues hope that all drivers who learn about the crash on Williamsburg Pottery Road take the clear lesson to act as if other people’s lives are in their hands when they grip a steering wheel.