A crash at a downtown intersection left a Richmond, Virginia (VA), jogger dead on the morning of June 9, 2017. The driver of the Nissan pickup involved in the fatal pedestrian collision remained on the scene, but it is unclear if charges will be filed.
Police responded at 6:01 am to a report of a person badly injured and laying in the street at the intersection of W. Main Street and Vine Street in the area is known as the Fan. Residents told reporters that drivers regularly speed through the intersection and noted that the view of people crossing W. Main Street is often blocked by vehicles parked along both curbs of the two-lane, one-way street. Richmond City Council has been studying ways to improve sightlines and enforce speed limits.
The deceased jogger has been identified as 74-year-old Richard K. Priebe, who had retired from Virginia Commonwealth University after teaching English for more than 30 years. He died from his injuries before being transported to a hospital.
Investigators must determine whether the jogger or the pickup driver had right of way, if the driver was exceeding the speed limit, and if factors such as low light, glare for the rising sun or obstruction from illegally parked vehicles contributed to causing the deadly wreck.
Since the intersection of W. Main and Vine is marked with intersections, the assumption is that the jogger entered the roadway legally. Section 46.2-924 of the Virginia Code states
I. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:
A. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;
B. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;
C. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.
The statute also makes it clear, however, that “no pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.” That duty to yield would be removed if a driver acted negligently or recklessly in a way that put the pedestrian at risk for injury or death regardless. In analyzing wrecks involving pedestrians, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that being inattentive/getting distracted, failing to yield right of way and driving too fast for conditions were among the leading harmful mistakes by drivers. The agency also concluded that “a pedestrian is still likely to die in a crash even if the driver is obeying the posted speed limit.”
The family of the jogger who lost his life in Richmond’s Fan should consult with a Virginia wrongful death attorney who has experience representing pedestrians hit by drivers. Countering an insurance company’s claims that a pedestrian acted unsafely can be difficult without legal advice and representation.