An impaired driver caused a fatal head-on collision in Harnett County, North Carolina (NC), on New Year’s Day 2018. The deadly two-vehicle crash happened near the intersection of Highway 27 and Hodges Chapel Road, and both the at-fault driver and the man behind the wheel of the other vehicle suffered serious injuries.
State troopers received the call about the fatal wreck at 3:51 pm on January 1. They determined that the driver of a Chevy car had crossed the center line of NC 27 west of the town of Benson and struck a Buick SUV. The backseat passenger in the SUV, identified as 79-year-old resident of Cameron, died at the scene.
Both the injured drivers were taken to WakeMed Health and Hospitals in Raleigh for treatment. Evidence indicated that the car’s driver was impaired, but news reports do not make it clear whether she was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the passenger who died as a result of the head-on collision in Harnett County. We also hope the innocent driver recovers quickly and completely.
This tragedy illustrates too well the dangers of driving while impaired over the holidays. A person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs will find it difficult to stay on his or her side of the road when using a two-lane rural route like NC Highway 27. The drunk or stoned driver will be at an increased risk for falling asleep behind the wheel, being unable to respond appropriate to changes in traffic flow and for failing to properly correct his or her steering when crossing the center line.
News stories about this sad incident near Benson, NC, do not indicate whether state troopers will charge the car’s driver with any criminal offenses. The details that are publicly available, however, suggest that a felony charge for causing a death while operating a motor vehicle is likely. A person who is found to be at fault for a deadly wreck while driving while impaired can be charged with this under section 20-141.4 of the North Carolina General Statutes.
Whatever evidence criminal investigators gather can also be used to support a wrongful death insurance claim or civil lawsuit. This will be true even if no trial is held or if no conviction secured. Consulting with a dedicated and caring Carolina wrongful death attorney will help the family victimized by the impaired driver understand and exercise their legal options.