Police in Virginia Beach, VA, announced on Oct. 8, 2020, that they had arrested two teen drivers in connection with a fatal crash involving an older man who was riding a bicycle. The deadly crash happened near the intersection of Indian Lakes Boulevard and Halifax Drive at around 8:30 pm.
The drivers taken into custody are 18 and 19 years old, respectively. Both face preliminary charges of “racing, causing serious injury or death.” According to news reports, the 59-year-old bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene despite the rapid arrival of emergency medical personnel.
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Street racing is prohibited under section 46.2-865 of the Virginia Code. That statute reads
Any person who engages in a race between two or more motor vehicles on the highways in the Commonwealth or on any driveway or premises of a church, school, recreational facility, or business property open to the public in the Commonwealth shall be guilty of reckless driving, unless authorized by the owner of the property or his agent. When any person is convicted of reckless driving under this section, in addition to any other penalties provided by law the driver's license of such person shall be suspended by the court for a period of not less than six months nor more than two years.
It is unclear how fast the drivers were going or whether one or both were outside of their designated lanes of travel. What is clear from the announced charge is that law enforcement official believe that the teenagers were operating recklessly and that the young drivers’ reckless behavior was the immediate cause of the bike rider’s death.
The general rule for reckless driving in Virginia is spelled out in section 46.2-852 of the state code. It applies to “any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”
Drivers Must Always Watch for Bicyclists and Pedestrians
This deadly crash happened in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Encountering bike riders and pedestrians of all ages should be expected. Additionally, the posted speed limit on Indian Lakes Boulevard is 35 mph, making it a route for bicycles as well as cars and trucks.
Whether the bike rider who lost his life was attempting to cross the main road at the intersection or riding along the right shoulder, he would have been complying with applicable state laws and local ordinances. This placed a duty on the teen drivers to either yield right of way or slow down and pass with caution. The drivers did neither, and the results were irreversibly tragic.
My Virginia Beach personal injury and wrongful death law firm colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the deceased crash victim. We hope that everyone who learns of this highly preventable death takes the news as a reminder to operate responsibly and to share the road respectfully.