A woman who had lived in Arlington, Virginia (VA), suffered fatal traumatic brain injuries in a drunk driving crash in Washington, DC, early in the morning of March 22, 2015. The fatal rear-end collision between the car in which the deceased victim was riding and a parked tractor-trailer occurred on Eastern Avenue NE. A second passenger sustained serious injuries, and the man behind the wheel of the car was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and second-degree murder.
According to the Washington Post, the at-fault driver was exceeding the speed limit, had crossed out of the center travel lane and apparently never slowed down before slamming into the back of the commercial truck. Forensic evidence and reports from the surviving passenger indicate that the deceased victim sustained massive head trauma in the initial crash into the semi, was dragged out of the vehicle by the driver, shaken harshly and dropped roughly on the pavement. The actions following the wreck may have contributed to causing her death.
Even more than the dangers inherent in accepting a ride from an intoxicated driver, this tragic car crash may illustrate the importance of responding appropriately to brain and head injuries. We may never know if the woman would have survived her original TBI, but it is obvious that her rough handling following the wreck worsened her chances. Repeated blows to the head always exacerbate existing damage to delicate blood vessels and nerve connections.
The DUI/DWI and reckless behavior of the driver who caused the deadly crash cannot, and should never, be ignored, of course. But the message that any person with an obvious or suspected brain injury should be treated gently and receive skilled medical care as soon as possible deserves trumpeting.