A 17-year-old who was reportedly walking home from a North Carolina store on the night of August 18, 2017, died after a pickup truck driver ran off the road and struck him. The fatal pedestrian accident happened at around 9 pm on Queens Creek Road in the Onslow County town of Swansboro.
Information provided by the North Carolina Highway Patrol indicates that the pickup driver ran off the road to the right, crashed into a curve sign and continued on to hit the teenager. The impact sent the pedestrian flying about 100 yards. He initially survived but later died from his injuries at Onslow Memorial Hospital.
The at-fault driver fled the scene but was quickly caught and taken into custody. Troopers charged the 45-year-old man with felony hit and run, felony death by motor vehicle and reckless driving. A voluntary breath test performed shortly after his arrest showed the hit-and-run driver to have a blood alcohol concentration of .18, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08. Under North Carolina law, such a high BAC is presumed to be incontrovertible evidence of driving while impaired.
The DWI offense explains why the charge of causing a death while driving will also be considered a felony. Impairment by alcohol or drugs is treated as an aggravating factor and a display of disregard for other people’s health and lives.
The reckless driving charge will also be taken very seriously by criminal prosecutors. According to section 20-140 of the North Carolina Code
(a) 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.
(b) 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.
No matter how these criminal charges are resolved, the accusation of recklessness and evidence of impairment offer strong grounds for the parents of the teen pedestrian who lost his life in Swansboro, NC, to file wrongful death claims against the at-fault driver. All the information gathered by police can also be used by a Carolina wrongful death attorney to support an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.