A 61-year-old North Carolina woman was killed after an allegedly drunk driver struck her car at a high rate of speed as he fled from another wreck. The suspect faces criminal charges in several counties, but he could also be subject to fines and other penalties if the victim's family decides to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Such a claim would potentially allow them to collect damages compensating them for the death of their loved one, an event they referred to as "unfair" and "tragic" on a mortuary website. It is unclear whether they plan to pursue such legal action.
Police say the accident occurred after the suspect fled from the scene of a separate hit-and-run crash, slamming into the victim's car when he attempted to pass an 18-wheeler truck on the highway's median. Officers say the suspect was speeding by at least 30 miles per hour when he struck the victim's car, which was waiting to pull onto the highway. The hood of his car was also reportedly covering his windshield and obscuring his view due to damage from the first crash.
The suspect faces charges of habitual DWI, driving with a revoked license and leaving the scene of a traffic accident in the Brunswick County, where the first accident occurred. He faces additional charges of felony death by vehicle, DWI and second-degree murder in Columbus County due to the fatal second crash. His bonds in the two counties were set at $500,000 and $1,000,000, respectively. He was transferred to Brunswick County shortly after his arrest, though authorities expect to move him back to Columbus County.
Officials say the suspect faces a sentence of at least 20 years from the murder charge alone. A District Attorney said the suspect will likely ask to be tried for all charges in the same county.
Source: WECT, "Crash victim's family: mom was taken from us 'so tragically and so unfairly'," Ashlea Kosikowski, Feb. 28, 2013