Newport News Pedestrian Death Raises Right of Way Issues

A 72-year-old pedestrian died after getting struck by a vehicle on J. Clyde Morris Boulevard on the morning of August 26, 2017. Police receive reports of a crash at around 10;15 am, and the pedestrian succumbed to his injuries before they found the man in the roadway between the intersections with Thimble Shoals Boulevard and Bruton Avenue.



The driver remained at the scene and spoke with investigators from the Newport News Crash Team Unit. No charges were filed at the time, but a city prosecutor will review evidence.

It was unclear where exactly the vehicle hit the pedestrian. The intersection of J. Clyde Morris and Thimble Shoals is controlled by stoplights and marked with crosswalks. A high-speed impact could have knocked the man crossing the street forward to where he was found. Police indicated that he had visited the 7-11 at the corner of Thimble Shoals before getting hit.

In Virginia, a pedestrian using a crosswalk has right of way. Violating that right of way makes a driver negligent and responsible for paying compensations and damages claimed for any resulting injuries or deaths. The relevant state statute, section 46.2-924(A) of the Virginia Code, spells out the legal duty to yield to pedestrians in even greater detail, stating that a person crossing a street or highway has right of way


  1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;
  2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;
  3. 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.


Sharing the Roads in Virginia, a handbook published by the Virginia Department of Transportation, offers this addition practical advice for drivers:


  • Approach and pass bicyclists at a reasonable speed and with a safe gap of at least 3 feet
  • Always yield to pedestrians and bicyclists who are crossing the road in a crosswalk, especially when turning
  • Allow pedestrians time to cross safely
  • Don’t drive and use mobile devices
  • Come to a full stop for a blind pedestrian with a cane or guide dog


My Virginia Beach-based wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the friends and family members of the man who lost his life in Newport News. We also urge all drivers to watch for and yield to pedestrians in commercial districts like the stretch of J. Clyde Morris where this deadly collision occurred.


Randall E. Appleton
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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