John Edward Rossi of Wilmington, North Carolina (NC) was riding in a 2002 Toyota pickup truck with his friend operating the vehicle. As they crossed Murrayville Road, the driver was unable to maintain control of the truck and wound up driving off a bridge. Mr. Rossi was killed.

My condolences go out to Mr. Rossi’s friends and family. He was only 19 years old.

The driver was allegedly traveling 30+ miles over the speed limit and had consumed alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel, according to the Star News. 

An investigation also needs to be conducted to determine who sold the driver alcohol since the driver was also 19 years old.

North Carolina (NC) law allows an injured individual, or the family of a loved one who died due to a driver under the influence, to pursue a claim against the company which sold alcohol to a teenager. Here’s the language of the law…

§ 18B-121. Claim for relief created for sale to underage person. 

An aggrieved party has a claim for relief for damages against a permittee or local

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board if:

(1) The permittee or his agent or employee or the local board or its agent or

employee negligently sold or furnished an alcoholic beverage to an

underage person; and G.S. 18b-100 Page 10

(2) The consumption of the alcoholic beverage that was sold or furnished to

an underage person caused or contributed to, in whole or in part, an

underage driver’s being subject to an impairing substance within the

meaning of G.S. 20-138.1 at the time of the injury; and

3) The injury that resulted was proximately caused by the underage driver’s

negligent operation of a vehicle while so impaired.

In addition to this law, when a loved one riding in a vehicle is killed due to the negligence and/or irresponsibility of the driver, the family of the loved one could have grounds for a wrongful death claim. Families, though, sometimes decide not to file a claim because the driver was a friend or even a relative. They fear filing the claim will result in the driver going to prison or becoming bankrupt. This is a mistake since the claim is made against and paid for by the insurance company, and the driver is really not going to pay anything if the family does not want to go after their assets individually.

This is not a pleasant scenario for anyone involved, but wrongful death situations are never pleasant. They’re always tragic and difficult. Nevertheless, a wrong was committed and justice should be pursued for the survivors.