A car’s passenger died when the vehicle in which she was riding was hit from behind by a speeding driver and pushed into the path of an oncoming SUV in Charlotte, North Carolina (NC). The deadly rear-end collision and chain-reaction crash happened at the intersection of Clanton Road and South Boulevard at 11:50 pm on December 15, 2017.



According to local police investigators, the driver of a Hyundai Sonata set off the wreck by failing to reduce her speed while approaching a red light on Clanton Road. The resulting impact with a Dodge Nitro sent both cars into the intersection, where the SUV also hit the Dodge. Two of the vehicles came to rest on the light rail tracks, but no commuter train was in the area.

Five people, including all three drivers, suffered injuries that required medical treatment. The deceased passenger was identified as 65-year-old Paulette Lawrence. Two of the other victims were a 10-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy who were riding in the Hyundai. The children both went to Carolinas Medical Center-Main with very serious injuries.

Authorities intend to charge the Hyundai driver, who they described to reporters as “reckless.” Publicly disclosed facts about the incident do appear to indicate that the woman violated both of the main sections of North Carolina’s law against reckless driving.

Section 20-140 of the state’s General Statutes defines reckless driving this way:


  1. Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others shall be guilty of reckless driving.
  2. Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.


Driving too fast is one of the most dangerous things people do in North Carolina. Statistics compiled by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles showed that during 2015, just under 31 percent of all fatal crashes were related to speeding. In actual numbers, 424 of the 1,380 vehicular deaths on North Carolina roads and highways that year involved at least one driver who was exceeding the speed limit or driving to fast for conditions. Speed-related wrecks also left 45,845 people injured.

My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our heartfelt condolences out to the friends and family members of the passenger who lost her life in the preventable Charlotte crash. We also hope all the injured individuals recover rapidly and completely. Obeying speed limits, obeying traffic signals and watching for changes in traffic flow like slowing down while approaching a light will save lives and prevents injuries.