Man Pleads to Manslaughter for Killing Tow Truck Driver in Newport News, VA | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

A 53-year-old man from Newport News, Virginia (VA), pleaded guilty to aggravated involuntary manslaughter on June 22, 2011, after a court heard he was driving under the influence of alcohol. The criminal charge stemmed from an accident that led to the death of a tow-truck driver on the shoulder of Interstate 64 in 2009.

View I-64, J Clyde Morris Blvd. accident scene Larger Map 

“A prosecutor said William Charles Burns had a blood alcohol content of .26 – more than three times the legal limit of .08 – when his pickup truck veered onto the interstate’s shoulder, where the tow-truck driver was securing a disabled minivan to his tow,” the Daily Press reported.

The tow truck driver, Andy Craig Starmer, who was working for Superior Towing, died at the scene after being struck on I-64 westbound near the J. Clyde Morris Boulevard exit ramp in Newport News on.

“Burns pleaded guilty to both the manslaughter charge and a related driving-under-the influence count. He entered an Alford plea — a form of a guilty plea in which a defendant maintains his innocence but acknowledges there’s enough evidence to convict him,” the Daily Press reported.

The 2009 crash highlighted the vulnerability of tow truck drivers and led to new safeguards.

This crash prompted legislators to extend Virginia’s “move over law” which applied to law enforcement personnel and paramedics, to include tow truck drivers, in 2010. The law means drivers have to move to another lane or slow down when they see emergency vehicles or tow trucks on the side of a highway.

But earlier this month two tow truck drivers were killed in a tragic accident in Newport News after one of the drivers lost control of his truck. Both drivers died at the scene on the shoulder of I-64.

As experienced Virginia (VA) personal injury attorneys, we have reported on a number of accidents in which tow truck drivers have been either killed or injured. They often put themselves in a highly vulnerable position while picking up disabled vehicles on the shoulders of interstates.

Sadly, in the case of Starmer, he could not have known a driver under the influence of alcohol was about to plough into him.

Almost every week our personal injury attorneys report on an injury or a death linked to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We hope high profile cases like this one will help persuade drivers it’s not worth the risk.