Two teens died and two others suffered serious injuries when the driver of the car they were in fled a traffic stop and caused a hit-and-run collision. The police pursuit that started on the night of April 2, 2018, in Fayetteville, North Carolina (NC), ended near the intersection of E. Russell Street and S. Eastern Boulevard.
The at-fault driver, identified only as a 15-year-old male, first ran a red light and then led police on a chase through a residential neighborhood. After running several stop signs and a second red light, the underage driver hit a second car. He then fled on foot but was arrested after being detained by a bystander.
An 18-year-old female passenger in the at-fault driver’s vehicle died after being taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. The second fatality was a 17-year-old male passenger who succumbed to his injuries at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. The injuries to the other two teenaged passengers were not considered life-threatening. It is unclear from news reports whether the driver of the other car got hurt.
On April 25, Fayetteville police officially charged the underaged driver with two counts of second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury, speeding, driving without a license, a red light violation, and three counts of felony hit-and-run.
Under the laws of North Carolina, the at-fault teen driver could hold a limited learner’s permit. AAA summarizes what that would allow him to do this way: “A limited learner’s permit lets your teen drive from 5 am to 9 pm with a supervising licensed driver seated beside the teen driver. A supervising licensed driver shall be a parent, grandparent, or guardian of the permit holder or a responsible adult approved by the parent or guardian.”
The deadly wreck on Eastern Boulevard in Fayetteville happened after 9 pm and at a time when no legally responsible adult was supervising the teen’s driving. The 15 year old then compounded every other fatal error by attempting to flee the scene on foot. Sadly, research just published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that deaths from hit-and-run collisions in the United States have reached an all-time high.
According to the foundation, “2,049 deaths in 2016 -- the highest number on record and a 60 percent increase since 2009.” In all, researchers identified an average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes each year, which averages out to more than one each minute.
The families of the teens who lost their lives, as well as those who are still recovering from their injuries, will draw no comfort from knowing they share their grief and struggles with many other victims of negligent and reckless drivers. They may, however, avoid having to pay all the costs from the preventable losses of life and injuries.
North Carolina requires all licensed drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. The teens killed and injured in this hit-and-run collision in Fayetteville will be covered under their parents’ or guardians’ car insurance policies, which means they would also have access to settlements for uninsured motorists claims.
Insurance companies will not welcome opportunities to pay out on such claims. The insurers may go so far as to argue that the teens contributed to causing their own deaths or injuries by getting into the car with an underage and unlicensed driver. Partnering with an experienced and caring Carolina wrongful death attorney and personal injury lawyer will help the families take on the insurance companies.