A distracted and drugged SUV driver critically injured two women in a Huntington, West Virginia (WV), Walmart parking lot on the evening of October 4, 2016. The victims were in a crosswalk outside the main entrance to the store off U.S. 60 when the at-fault driver hit them, knocking one up onto the sidewalk and pinning the other victim under a tire.
Police immediately took the driver into custody and later charged him with causing serious injuries while under the influence of drugs. News reports indicate that he initially refused to provide blood and urine samples for alcohol and drug testing but eventually confessed to having a prescription painkiller addiction and receiving treatment with the anti-opioid medication Vivitrol (naltrexone). While Vivitrol can blunt some of the effects of heroin-like opioids, the medication itself makes operating a motor vehicle risky due its side effects of confusion and drowsiness.
Police also filed reckless driving charges against the man because he was texting while behind the wheel. He told investigators that he never saw the pedestrians in the crosswalk, and witnesses confirmed that he never hit his brakes before crashing into the women.
My Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues have seen too many times how dangerous distracted driving can be. Taking drugs increases the likelihood that a driver will lose focus behind the wheel, and the carnage unleashed by texting drivers is well-known. This nearly fatal pedestrian accident also highlights the risks people outside their own vehicles face in parking lots. Even at a low speed, when a car, SUV or truck strikes a pedestrian, serious injuries almost always result.