A head-on collision in Newport News, Virginia (VA), on the afternoon of November 27, 2017, proved deadly for one of the drivers involved. The fatal crash happened near the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Ivy Farms Road, and the deceased victims succumbed to his injuries two days later at a local hospital.
Emergency responders received the call about the wreck at 3:30 pm and found the 23-year-old man who would lose his life trapped in his vehicle. Crash scene investigators determined that his Volkswagen sedan had been struck head-on by a Hyundai that had jumped the raised concrete median close to the intersection. The driver of the Hyundai also suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening.
Follow-up reporting on the Newport News collision identified the young man who died as a nonsworn police aide in the city. A definitive cause of the fatal crash has not been revealed. Investigators have ruled out speeding or alcohol use by the driver who crossed the median on Jefferson Avenue, but several other factors still need to be considered.
During 2015, the last year for which complete statistics are available, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles recorded 18 deaths in wrecks caused by a driver who was apparently asleep, another 11 in which the driver was fatigued, 10 in which the driver was ill and 1,059 in which a vehicle defect like faulty brakes, loss of steering or defective tires were found.
Driver distraction will also need to be examined. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes three types of distraction behind the wheel:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road;
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and
- Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving.
CDC researchers also note that “anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction. Sending a text message, talking on a cell phone, using a navigation system, and eating while driving are a few examples of distracted driving. Any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others.”
If the Hyundai driver who survived the head-on collision in Newport News did lose control of his vehicle after becoming distracted, experiencing a preventable mechanical problem or doing something else negligent and dangerous, he could be held responsible for settling wrongful death insurance claims brought by the family of the police aide who died. Consulting with a caring Virginia wrongful death attorney as the investigation continues would help the family understand and exercise their legal options.