A hit-and-run collision near Boone, North Carolina (NC), early on the morning of August 6, 2017, left one pedestrian dead and a second man who had been walking on the shoulder of Highway 105/Old Donner Road critically injured. The fleeing driver was quickly tracked down across the state line in Mountain City, Tennessee (TN), and taken into custody by the NC Highway Patrol.
The at-fault driver was found to be an 18-year-old who had attended the same party as the men she killed and injured. All three had left a home in the Dove Acres neighborhood in Watauga County at around the same time. She took a 15-year-old passenger in her vehicle, but the men decided to head out on foot.
A witness to the deadly crash later told investigators that he passed the pedestrians shortly before seeing the young woman in the pickup swerve off the road in his rearview mirror. The one pedestrian died at the scene, and the other victim remains hospitalized as of this writing.
Troopers discovered the hit-and-run driver smelling of alcohol and with red-rimmed eyes, according to news reports. They filed preliminary charges of driving while impaired (DWI) and felony hit-and-run resulting in a death or serious injury. North Carolina enforces one of the strictest underage DWI laws in the United States, mandating a legal blood alcohol concentration of 0.0 for anyone younger than 21. A court will consider chemical test results that show any alcohol at all in the pickup driver’s system to be proof that she was incapable of driving safely.
The felony hit-and-run charges indicate that law enforcement officials believe that the at-fault driver knew or should have known she hit the pedestrians, that the pedestrians suffered serious or fatal injuries, and willfully fled the scene without stopping to call 911, render first aid, and speak with police. Evidence that the young woman and her passenger abandoned their pickup and hitchhiked to Tennessee support all three allegations.
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I learn of new avoidable tragedies like this fatal DWI hit and run in Watauga County almost every day. We urge all drivers to set down the keys when they decide to drink. Doing otherwise to often inflicts needless suffering on crash victims and their families.