A stranded motorist who had been receiving assistance from a local police officer lost his life when another person ran off the side of the highway. The fatal crash happened near the exit to South Peace Haven Road from U.S. 421 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (NC).
The deadly collision happened at 8 pm on February 8, 2017. Multiple news reports identified the deceased victim as 60-year-old Marcus Kent Hayes.
Hayes died at the scene. According to the officer who witnessed the crash and investigators, the at-fault driver barely slowed down before drifting onto the shoulder from the right lane and slamming into the parked police cruiser, which had its roof flashers going. That initial impact sent the unoccupied cruiser into the stranded motorist. Neither the officer nor the occupants of the car that ran off the road sustained injuries.
Charges for causing a death and failing to maintain a proper lane have been filed. The at-fault driver has also been cited for violating North Carolina’s move over law.
As explained by the state’s Department of Public Safety, the move over law “requires motorists slow down and approach cautiously when an emergency vehicle is stopped on the shoulder of the roadway with its lights flashing. Motorists are required to move over to another lane away from the emergency vehicle on a multilane highway or slow down on a two-lane highway and can do so safely. Motorists must slow down while maintaining a safe speed.”
The move over law exists primarily to protect police, EMTs, firefighters and tow truck operators, but it also covers road crew members and anyone who winds up on a highway median or shoulder due to an accident or breakdown. As this tragedy in Winston-Salem shows, failing to reduce speed and change lanes can have deadly consequences. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. A recent investigative report revealed that dozens of emergency responders and innocent people get hurt and killed on the side of North Carolina highways each year.
Causing an injury or death while violating the move over law makes a diver either negligent or reckless and, therefore, liable for settling insurance claims filed by victims. Family members of the stranded motorist who lost his life on U.S. 421 may wonder, however, whether to seek compensation and damages from the out-of-control driver or the Winston-Salem Police Department. Consulting with a caring and knowledgeable Carolina wrongful death attorney will help them find answers and also explore all forms of potential insurance coverage.