A fatal rear-end collision on the interstate through Charlotte, North Carolina (NC), illustrated, once more, the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. The deadly crash happened near the LaSalle Street exits from southbound I-77 at around 5am on February 11, 2018.
State Highway Patrol troopers responded to reports of the wreck, They found two people in the car that was hit from behind dead from their injuries. Multiple news outlets identified the deceased victims as 33-year-old Phillip Hayes Jr. and 32-year-old Jessica Pacatte.
Preliminary charges of DWI and felony death by motor vehicle have been filed against 24-year-old Roy Miguel Mewborn. It is unclear whether he was drunk, high or both. Additional charges may be filed depending on what the completed investigation reveals.
One fact that troopers already ascertained is that the car Mewborn rear-ended was either barely moving or fully stopped in a center lane of I-77. Being impaired by drugs or alcohol appears to have prevented the at-fault driver from recognizing the dangerous situation he was approaching and from slowing down or changing lanes in time to avoid the collision.
My wrongful death law firm colleagues and I hae sued many drunk drivers. We also helped a family who lost a loved one in a very similar crash on I-64 in Virginia Beach, VA. In that tragedy, a flatbed truck driver grew almost instantly impatient while following a car that had just blown a tire and rammed the disabled vehicle from behind. The impact set off a fire, and a passenger trapped in the car died before rescuers could free him.
That incident and the more-recent deaths in Charlotte highlight the worst that can happen when drivers refuse to deal appropriately with unexpected circumstances. The fatal rear-end collision on I-77 also shows what happens when alcohol or drug use renders a driver incapable of making safe choices behind the wheel.
During 2015, the last year for which complete statistics are publicly available, the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles recorded 11,487 crashes in which one or more drivers registered a detectable blood alcohol concentration. Those wrecks resulted in 415 deaths and 8,244 injuries. These gruesome statistics should convince people to set down their keys when they decide to get drunk, but the problems created by drunk drivers persist.
Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family members of the man and woman who died so needlessly on the interstate in Charlotte.