A chain-reaction crash that appears to have begun with a reckless lane change by a person who was speeding and driving under the influence led to the death of an innocent man on U.S. 460 in Christiansburg, Virginia (VA). The deadly wreck happened just after 12:30 pm on May 29, 2017, where Montgomery County transitions into the city near the top of Christiansburg Mountain.



Multiple news reports identify the deceased victim as 73-year-old Bobby Handy of Shawsville. His car was forced off the road by the at-fault driver, after which it struck a utility pole, flipped over and hit a parked vehicle. The parked vehicle was sent airborne before landing on the porch of a nearby house. No one but Handy suffered injuries.

Handy died at the scene, and the at-fault driver attempted to flee. Law enforcement officers quickly apprehended him and charged him with felony hit and run and felony driving while intoxicated. Other charges may follow.

Under Virginia statutes, DWI becomes a felony offense when the accused driver has two previous drunk or drugged driving convictions, or when the intoxicated driver causes a crash that results in another person’s death or disabling injury (i.e., maiming). In this Christiansburg case, the hit-and-run driver stands accused of involuntary manslaughter, which section 18.2-36.1 defines as either taking a life while driving under the influence or acting in a way that “was so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life.”

Trying to flee the scene where the innocent victim died in Christiansburg is considered a separate Class 5 felony under Virginia law. If convicted of that, the person who caused the fatal collision on the stretch of U.S. 460 known locally as Roanoke Street could be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail.

Virginia wrongful death attorneys who represent plaintiffs in insurance claims and civil lawsuits take DWI hit-and-runs that leave people dead just as seriously as criminal prosecutors. Holding a reckless and careless driver financially responsible for the monetary losses and emotional suffering he inflicts is essential for achieving justice. This tragedy in Montgomery County illustrates the worst of what can happen when someone takes the wheel after drinking too much or using drugs irresponsibly, Whatever happens in the criminal courts, the intoxicated driver should be made to pay compensation and damages, including punitive damages, to the grieving family.