A head-on collision in Pittsylvania County, Virginia (VA), killed both drivers and sent a 3-year-old passenger to the hospital with serious injuries. The fatal crash happened near the intersection of Berry Hill Road and Oak Hill Road near the town of Tunstall on the night of April 6, 2018.
Virginia State troopers responded to the wreck. They determined that the driver of a car had caused the deadly collision by attempting to make an illegal pass on two-lane Berry Hill Road. The rural highway is also designated as U.S. 311 and VA Route 863.
The crash happened in a no-passing zone, as indicated by the double yellow line separating lanes on oncoming traffic. The impact killed the at-fault driver at the scene and sent both people in the SUV to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The 71-year-old driver of the SUV later died, while the toddler passenger survived with serious injuries despite having been properly secured in a child safety seat.
Investigators did not announce a definitive finding for why the at-fault driver attempted the illegal passing maneuver, but the information they did release to reporters makes it clear that he violated section 46.2-843 of the Virginia Code. Titled “Limitations on Overtaking and Passing,” the first paragraph of the statute reads, “The driver of a vehicle shall not drive to the left side of the center line of a highway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless such left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be made safely.”
Such negligence will make a driver responsible for settling wrongful death and personal injury claims from crash victims. This remains true even when the at-fault driver also dies as a result of the collision he caused. Car insurance policies stay in effect until all legitimate claims are paid out or otherwise resolved. Working with a knowledgeable and caring Virginia personal injury lawyer and wrongful death attorney will help the affected family deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The other thing that this tragic head-on collision in Pittsylvania County shows is that drivers really cannot afford to make errors in judgment on two-lane highways. During 2017, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recorded 1,337 crashes attributable to improper passing. Five crashes blamed on decisions to try passing where doing so was not allowed or when doing so would create dangers proved fatal. Speeding, improper lane changes and driving left of center also combined to leave dozens of people dead and thousands injured.