A nightmare scenario played out in real life on April 9, 2014, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (NC).
According to police and witness accounts, a woman driving a Nissan Pathfinder hit a pedestrian near the intersection of North Cleveland Avenue and E. 25th Street then drove on for almost 3 miles with the man trapped under the front of her SUV. Despite surviving his grievous dragging injuries long enough to get transported to a hospital, the crash victim died.
The at-fault driver did not stop to offer assistance to the pedestrian initially or after he came free from her vehicle. Police tracked down the suspected hit-and-run driver on April 11 and filed felony charges of destroying, altering, concealing or tampering with evidence. The official investigation continues, and other criminal charges may be forthcoming.
No driver has an excuse for fleeing the scene of an accident he or she caused, be it a fender-bender in a parking lot or a crash involving a pedestrian as horrific as the one that occurred in western North Carolina. Regardless of any fears one may have over being arrested, simple human decency should compel a person to check if anyone got hurt and to offer aid.
As personal injury lawyers, my colleagues and I know that hit-and-run collisions can leave accident victims, or the victims' surviving family members, with few opportunities to hold at-fault drivers accountable for the pain, suffering and financial difficulties their negligence and disregard caused. Fortunately, however, while receiving compensation following a crash in which the responsible party is not immediately identified is difficult, it is not impossible.
If the woman arrested after the fatal pedestrian accident in Winston-Salem is the person who hit and dragged the man for all that distance, she should be held to the highest criminal and civil liabilities.