A rear-end collision in Vance County, North Carolina (NC), very early in the morning of May 5, 2018, inflicted fatal injuries on two teens and injured two other teens. The at-fault 29-year-old pickup truck driver now faces multiple felony charges, traffic citations and an alcohol-related offense.
State Highway Patrol troopers responded to the two-vehicle wreck on Raleigh Road in Henderson at around 1:30 am. They determined that the pickup had slammed into the back of the teenagers’ car as the smaller vehicle slowed to make a left-hand turn into a private driveway.
The at-fault driver initially fled the scene of the rear-end collision on foot but was quickly arrested. He has been charged with felony death by vehicle, felony hit and run, driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving, failure to reduce speed, open container of alcohol and a license restriction violation.
The first vehicular homicide charge came after a 16-year-old girl who had been in the car died from her injuries after being taken to Duke University Hospital, A second is likely, as a 17-year-old male victim is also expected to die from the traumatic brain injuries he suffered in the rear-end collision.
Troopers found the at-fault driver possibly drunk and under the influence of a controlled substance. They are waiting on the results of blood and urine tests before identifying the drug or combination of drugs that contributed to causing the fatal wreck on Raleigh Road in Henderson.
Different drugs can impair driving in a variety of ways. For instance, NC Vision Zero, a group devoted to eliminating driving fatalities, posts the following summaries on its website:
- Marijuana -- slow reaction time, decreased coordination, loss of attention to the road and difficulty judging time and distance
- Amphetamines and cocaine -- aggressive and reckless driving, confusion, difficulty concentrating and impaired vision and coordination
- Opiates (e.g., OxyContin, fentanyl) -- slow reaction time, lack of coordination, drowsiness, mental confusion and visual impairment
Opiates, which are also called opioids, are often prescribed to treat pain. Those legal medications can still impair driving even at therapeutic dosages, and North Carolina’s DWI law make it clear that having a prescription for a powerful painkiller does not excuse a driver from criminal prosecution or civil liability if he or she causes a crash while under the influence of an otherwise legal opiate or opioid.
Drugged driving is a growing problem everywhere as more people get legal and illegal access to opioids and marijuana. My Carolina wrongful death attorney and personal injury lawyer colleagues and I remind everyone who takes drugs recreationally or by prescription to stay out of the driver’s seat.