Two people in a pickup truck died when a cargo van traveling the wrong way on the highway through Scott County, Virginia (VA), hit them a little after noon on March 21, 2017. The at-fault driver survived the crash and will face charges.
The fatal crash happened on State Highway 23 near the town of Duffield. According to state police, the deadly situation unfolded over several miles. The initial investigation, as summarized in the Bristol Herald-Courier, revealed that the van first ran off the right side of the road near mile marker 23 and hit a guardrail. The driver pulled back into the southbound lanes and went three miles before crossing the grassy median of the four-lane highway. The van then proceeded a short distance in the northbound lanes before colliding with the pickup.
Both people in the pickup died at the scene. The man driving the van was flown by helicopter to a hospital in nearby Kingsport, Tennessee (TN), with serious, but not life-threatening injuries.
News reports do not indicate what charges police intend to face. Not stopping after striking the guardrail, going across the median, driving the wrong-way and causing a crash in which people die are all against the law.
It is also not known at this time why the van driver operated so negligently or recklessly. Analyses of run-off-road crashes conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the leading causes of such wrecks are
- Driver distraction or lack of attention (40 percent),
- Secondary distraction, which results from responding to an initial distraction, such as reaching down to retrieve a dropped phone (36 percent),
- Narrowing lanes and changes in median shape (22 percent), and
- Driver fatigue (11 percent)
Often, two or more of those factors come into play. And when a running off the road leads to a wrong-way collision, people often die. Even though federal statistics show that only about 3 percent of highway crashes involve wrong-way drivers, those types of wreck are up to 27 times more likely to kill people than other types of crashes.
The family members of the people killed in the pickup truck on Highway 23 in Scott County should have strong grounds for filing wrongful death claims against the wrong-way driver. Working with a caring plaintiff's attorney will help them deal with insurance company representative no matter why the deadly wreck happened or how the criminal case proceeds.