A head-on collision on the interstate through New Kent County, Virginia (VA), on May 9, 2017, led to the death of an innocent driver four days later. The two-vehicle crash happened near Mile Marker 204 just west of the New Kent Highway exit from I-64.
A little before 1 pm on the day of the wreck, a Jeep crossed the interstate median and slammed into a Toyota. Both drivers were taken to hospitals, but the man behind the wheel of the Jeep was treated and released. The woman in the Toyota was admitted in critical condition and succumbed to her injuries on May 13.
State Police issued preliminary charges for reckless driving and operating without a license against the man in the Jeep. Additional charges may follow.
Investigators believe fatigue played a role in causing the at-fault driver to run off the left side of the westbound lanes on I-64. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention treats drowsy driving as a serious health threat, citing federal estimates that falling asleep at the wheel “was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in 2013.”
The agency also notes that fatigue-related crashes are underreported because other factors get cited in police reports. As many as 6,000 people die on U.S. roads and highways each year because drivers cannot stay awake and alert. According to the CDC, taking the wheel while at risk for falling asleep
- Makes drivers less able to pay attention to the road.
- Slows reaction time if [drivers] have to brake or steer suddenly.
- Affects a driver's ability to make good decisions.
The reckless driving charge stemming from the fatal crash in New Kent County reflects these dangers. Section 46.2-852 of the Virginia Code of Laws states, “Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.” Not paying attention, reacting slowly and inappropriately, and making poor decisions because you are not fully awake meet the statutory definition of reckless driving.
The family of the woman who died after this I-64 head-on collision should have strong grounds for filing wrongful death claims. Receiving compensation and damages from the at-fault driver may prove difficult, however, since he was operating without a license. If he also does not carry car insurance, the family may be able to access coverage under uninsured motorist provisions of their loved one’s policy. Working with an experienced and caring Virginia wrongful death attorney will help them understand how to exercise that option.