A Charlotte, North Carolina (NC), bike rider died in the early morning of June 9, 2017, after getting struck by a hit-and-run driver who was later charged with driving while impaired and several other misdemeanor and felony offenses. The fatal car-bicycle crash happened just before 1 am near the intersection of Matheson Avenue and N. Tyron Street.
Police caught the at-fault 23-year-old driver about two miles from the scene of the initial collision when she crashed a second time, possibly because parts of the bicycle were lodged under her vehicle. She was found with an open container of alcohol and failed a field sobriety test before being taking into custody. Preliminary alleged criminal offenses include DWI, failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, driving with a suspended license and death by motor vehicle.
The 29-year-old bicyclist originally survived the impact, but he succumbed to his injuries shortly after arriving at a nearby hospital. No descriptions of how the crash happened or the types of injuries the bike rider suffered appear in news reports.
“Open container” may seem like a relatively minor detail compared to what else could be shared by police, but law enforcement officials take the prohibition on ready-to-drink alcohol in cars and trucks seriously. Bottles, cans and even kegs must retain unbroken manufacturers’ seals if they are in a moving or parked vehicle. Cups and other drinking vessels that contain alcoholic beverages are also banned by law as a way to reduce rates of DWI.
Driving while impaired by alcohol increases both the risk for causing a crash that inflicts injuries or causes deaths and for leaving the scene. Being drunk decreases a driver’s ability to recognize that an accident has occurred and their likelihood of responding appropriately. North Carolina requires anyone involved in crash that may have inflicted injuries to stop and, when possible, render first aid. Failing to do so costs lives, as it may have on Matheson Avenue in Charlotte.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the man who lost his life in this Charlotte drunk driving crash. We hope that people learning of this tragedy take to heart the lesson to put down their keys when they pick up an alcoholic drink.