A collision between a car and an SUV on the interstate northwest of Charleston, South Carolina (SC), left a 9-year-old girl dead and the man behind the wheel of the car facing felony charges. The fatal crash happened near Mile Marker 186 on I-26 in Dorchester County at 2:20 am, March 26, 2017.
Both vehicles involved in the crash were traveling east. The car’s driver apparently tried to change lanes and sideswiped the SUV. The impact sent the larger vehicle off the right side of the highway and over a guardrail.
The girl who lost her life suffered critical injuries when she was ejected from the SUV. She died after being transported to the hospital. News reports do not contain details on whether anyone else required medical treatment for injuries.
South Carolina Highway Patrol officers charged the man driving the car with driving under the influence and reckless homicide. Other criminal charges may be filed after the crash investigation is concluded. Under state law, a charge of reckless homicide is warranted when a “the death of a person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury received by the driving of a vehicle in reckless disregard of the safety of others.” Other sections of the South Carolina Code of Laws describe DUI as a reckless act.
This tragedy also highlights the dangers of unsafe lane changes. When researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration looked into the reasons drivers cause sideswipe and rear-end collisions while changing lanes or merging from interstate on ramps, they found that “driver recognition errors (e.g., delay recognition, improper lookout) and decision errors (e.g., false assumption and improper maneuver such as turned from wrong lane)” were primarily to blame.
Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs would make any driver more prone to misjudging traffic flow, overestimating the time and distance they have to move over safely, becoming distracted, failing to check blind spots and committing errors. Sadly, one or more of these things appears to have led to the preventable death of a young girl in Dorchester County, SC.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney law firm colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the family. We also want to take this opportunity to urge all people to stay out of the driver’s seat when they become intoxicated and to change lanes and merge with as much caution as possible.