The driver involved in a fatal collision said he has no recollection of hitting and killing the Kanawha County college student with his pickup truck while she was walking on a sidewalk in Morgantown. About 11 months later, he caused another DUI hit-and-run fatality. As a result of his actions, he faced two felony charges and pleaded guilty.
In addition to the criminal trial, a civil trial jury awarded the first victim’s family more than $7 million for the loss, pain and anguish they suffered as a result of their daughter’s death. As reported by Metro News West Virginia, $1.25 million of the award verdict represents punitive damages. Intended to punish wrongdoing and deter future occurrences, a jury may award what it feels represents a justifiable amount.
College student never saw the vehicle until struck
Struck from behind, the young college student could not have seen the vehicle, a black Ford pickup truck, coming up on the sidewalk, as reported by WSAZ News Channel 3. Local law enforcement believes that she had no way to avoid the collision. She succumbed to her injuries later that day at a nearby hospital.
The victim’s father speaks out against drunk drivers
Appearing on a local talk show after the verdict, the father of the Morgantown victim voiced concern that his daughter will not be the last to die as a result of drunk driving in West Virginia. He feels that the issue should be “brought to the forefront” and that it is “not right” that there are such a high number of drunk drivers in the region.
The still-grieving parent described the three-day trial as “tumultuous.” The painful testimony provided by first responders and the hospital surgeons who fought to save his daughter was difficult to hear. The jury’s decision came in roughly 90 minutes.
Legal action may help to bring closure to a tragic event
A wrongful death suit may help a grieving family obtain a sense of closure and justice. Although financial compensation cannot wipe away the pain of a lost loved one, it may help relieve the stress associated with medical bills, funeral expenses and other losses suffered by family members.