A rear-end collision caused by a man driving on the right shoulder of the interstate north of Richmond, Virginia (VA), resulted in the death of one woman and the hospitalization of four other innocent victims. Virginia State Police received the call about the deadly wreck on I-95 in Caroline County at 3:34 am on November 10, 2017.
The at-fault driver was attempting to pass an SUV illegally when he clipped the larger vehicle from behind. The impact spun out the SUV, which then ran off the road and caught fire. The deceased victim, identified in multiple press accounts as 43-year-old Nancy C. Jenkins of Harrisburg, North Carolina (NC), became trapped in the wreckage and died at the scene.
The driver of the SUV and three other passengers survived with injuries.
Troopers found the man who attempted the illegal pass uninjured and under the influence of drugs. They have charged him with driving while intoxicated/drugs, DWI maiming, driving with an open container of alcohol and reckless driving. Additional charges may follow the completion of the investigation.
Driving while high is a growing problem in Virginia and across the United States. On its website, the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains how different types of illegal drugs and prescription medications can make drivers a danger to themselves and others:
Marijuana can slow reaction time, impair judgment of time and distance, and decrease coordination. Drivers who have used cocaine or methamphetamine can be aggressive and reckless when driving. Certain kinds of sedatives, called benzodiazepines, can cause dizziness and drowsiness. All of these impairments can lead to vehicle crashes.
Emphasizing that the risks are not theoretical, NIDA also writes, “According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016, 20.7 million people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol in the past year and 11.8 million drove under the influence of illicit drugs.”
This tragedy on I-95 in Caroline County illustrates the tragic consequences of drugged driving. The family of the woman who lost her life so needlessly, as well as the injured individuals, have strong grounds for filing insurance claims against the driver who harmed them. In addition to the payment of medical bills, the victims might be able to seek punitive damages. Those represent noncriminal penalties for driving recklessly and while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Working with an experienced and caring Virginia personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney will help the victims hold the drugged driver financially accountable.