A three-vehicle crash in Pulaski County, Virginia (VA), on the afternoon of December 7, 2017, claimed two people’s lives and left many questions about the cause unanswered. The deadly chain-reaction crash happened on U.S. Route 11/Lee Highway near the intersection with Wright Avenue.
According to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, a northbound vehicle crossed into the southbound lane of Route 11 outside of the town of Dublin at around 2:30 pm. That caused a head-on collision, and a third vehicle could not avoid the resulting wreckage. First responders found two of the drivers -- a man from Pulaski and a woman from Dublin -- dead. News reports do not include information on whether the third driver or any passengers suffered injuries.
Publicly available information also makes it unclear why the first driver crossed the center line of the highway. Where the fatal head-on happened, the two lanes are divided by a single yellow line and a dashed yellow line. This indicates the stretch of Route 11 is a no-passing zone in which the driver with the dashes to his or her left must keep as far to the right as possible. The only time a driver can legally allowed to cross over a solid, double or dashed yellow line is to make a turn or move very carefully and very quickly around a pedestrian, bike rider or skateboarder.
Virginia law enforcement and public safety officials track the occurrence of both illegal passing crashes and wrecks caused by drivers who improperly cross a center line while not attempting to pass. During 2015, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles compiled the following statistics on these types of collisions:
- Improper Passing: 1.024 crashes, 8 deaths
- Left of Center - Not Passing: 1,616 crashes, 53 deaths
Sadly, the two deaths in this December 7 crash on Route 11 equal the total for traffic fatalities in Pulaski County from any cause during 2015. Figuring out if the driver who left his or lane did so in violation of the law will matter greatly for appropriately filing any personal injury insurance claims or wrongful death lawsuits. Investigators must also look into whether the at-fault driver became distracted, fell asleep behind the wheel or had some other explanation for losing control.
Partnering with a caring and experienced wrongful death attorney in Virginia will help the grieving families and any surviving victims who suffered injuries stay up to date on what the crash investigation reveals. Consulting with and hiring a plaintiff’s lawyer will also help them deal with insurance company representatives.