A head-on collision in Dublin, Virginia (VA), left one woman with fatal injuries and the other driver facing charges. The deadly crash happened near the intersection of Peppers Ferry Road and Prices Fork Road.



Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the wreck in the 3600 block of Peppers Ferry on March 15, 2018. They found 70-year-old Evelyn Martin trapped in her car and in critical condition. Emergency medical personnel had Martin flown to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, but she died the following day.

Authorities have charged Matthew Utermark of Roanoke with failing to keep right. The road where the fatal head-on collision happened in Dublin has two lanes separated by double yellow lines. That pavement marking signals to drivers that they must not pass vehicles in front of them. Drivers can only cross double yellow lines to turn left into a driveway or parking lot and to create space for pedestrians or bicyclists to their right. And even when an exception to the keep right rule applies, drivers can only cross double yellow lines when no vehicles are approaching from the opposite direction.

When drivers negligently or recklessly enter the path of oncoming traffic, tragedy often results. In its compilation of statistics on traffic crashes on state roads and highways during 2017, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles listed 1,553 collisions attributed to driving “left of center, not passing.” Another 1,337 wrecks were attributed to “improper passing.” Those head-on collisions resulted in 50 deaths.

The Montgomery County sheriff told reporters that the driver who caused the deadly wreck in Dublin will face more than the single charge for leaving his lane. It is unclear from news articles what those charges will be. Driving left of center is often a consequence of speeding, falling asleep at the wheel or driving while impaired. Getting distracted by a smartphone, GPS device, or even eating can also make a driver cross the center line of a two-lane road.

My Virginia wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our heartfelt condolences out to the friends and family members of Evelyn Martin. While they may not be thinking about such matters so soon after losing their loved one in a traffic crash caused by another person, the charges against the other person involved give the family strong grounds for filing wrongful death insurance claims. Consulting with an experienced and caring plaintiff’s lawyer will help them understand and exercise their legal options for holding the at-fault driver accountable.