Two children who were hit by an unoccupied pickup truck in a Dublin, Virginia (VA), Walmart pickup truck on the afternoon of December 23, 2017, remained hospitalized the day after Christmas. The vehicle, which was left running when its driver got out, rolled way in reverse and also struck two parked cars.
Pulaski County sheriff deputies responded to the report of the rollaway crash off of Alexander Road at around 1:15 pm. They subsequently charged the pickup truck driver with reckless driving under section 46.2-864 of the Virginia Code. The relevant provisions of that statue make it illegal to “endanger the life, limb, or property of any person” at the following locations:
- On any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business or governmental property open to the public; or
- On the premises of any industrial establishment providing parking space for customers, patrons, or employees
The children were taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital with multiple cuts, heavy bruising and other injuries. Doctors expect the young victims to fully recover, but it was unclear from news reports when they would be able to return home.
Parking lots are always dangerous places for pedestrians, and especially for small children. The lot for the Walmart sitting at the base of an exit from I-81 southwest of Blacksburg, VA, would have presented even more risks for pedestrian collisions than usual during a Saturday that was also the last full shopping day before Christmas. Leaving a vehicle running and unattended increased the threats to pedestrians even further.
On a webpage devoted to protecting children from vehicles crashes, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers three major tips for preventing rollaway accidents like this one in Pulaski County:
- Always ensure the vehicle is securely in the Park position before shutting the vehicle off and exiting.
- Never leave keys in the car.
- Engage your emergency brake every time you park.
My Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I know from representing many injured pedestrians that drivers can take many simple actions to avoid hitting people in crosswalks, on sidewalks and in parking lots. Among the simplest involve ensuring that their vehicle will not begin moving when they are not in the driver’s seat. As this crash in Dublin, VA, sadly illustrates, even a vehicle moving at relatively slow speed can seriously injure a pedestrian, particularly when that pedestrian is a child.