A 13-year-old waiting for the bus to take him to middle school in Wendell, North Carolina (NC), lost his life when he was struck and critically injured by a driver who left the scene of the crash without ever stopping. The fatal hit-and-run accident occurred on Edgemont Road at around 7 am on September 22, 2014.
The suspected at-fault driver turned himself in later the same day, telling police he kept driving after the collision because he believed he had hit an animal instead of a teenager. He also, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, said he had not run off the road. A preliminary analysis of the crash scene contradicts that account, with the newspaper noting that '"An initial investigation showed that [the victim], described as a young person “with a lot of heart,' was not on the pavement when he was hit. Troopers said they believed the driver would have had to veer off the road to strike him."
A mix of felony and misdemeanor charges for causing a hit-and-run collision, operating a vehicle while causing a death and driving without a license have been filed. If determined to be at fault and regardless of how the criminal matters get resolved, the man behind the wheel will also likely face a wrongful death lawsuit seeking recovery of monetary damages for loss of life, grief and loss of society and companionship. The family and friends of the deceased teen face lifetimes of sadness. The pain and suffering imposed by negligent, reckless and impaired drivers who kill others extends far beyond the deadly wounds they inflict on the people they hit.
As a Carolina wrongful death attorney, I know the one small comfort the middle school student's loved ones can take in the short term is that the man who instigated this tragedy appears to be in custody. Holding at-fault drivers criminally and civilly liable delivers justice and, through insurance settlements or court awards, some measure of financial compensation for a loss that can never truly be made whole.