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Driver charged with teen death after traffic violation

An accident on Oct. 17 that led to the death of a local high school student could lead to criminal consequences for the driver who caused the wreck. The fatal accident occurred in Rowan County, North Carolina, when a 57-year-old female driver failed to stop at the school bus stop sign. That woman is facing serious charges of felony death by motor vehicle, according to official reports, but she has posted bond in the case.

Reports from the scene indicate that the driver likely was not paying attention when the bus stopped. It does not appear that speed or intoxication played a role in the tragic wreck. The driver in this case told family members that she is devastated about the accident, and she is grieving the young man's death along with his relatives and classmates.

Colleagues at the high school agree that the young man was an upstanding student, who often tried to help others and serve his community through the JROTC program at the school. Even though the young man often kept to himself, classmates said he was a pleasant and generous scholar.

The accident demonstrates the importance of new legislation in the state, which will increase the penalties associated with school bus stop sign violations. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed that bill just months before this tragic accident. Its provisions will go into effect on Dec. 1. Drivers who fail to stop at a school bus stop sign would face misdemeanor charges and a $500 fine, while those who strike a child and cause injury would be charged with a felony. The death of a child would mean a felony charge and a $5,000 fine, according to news reports.

Even a $5,000 fine cannot compensate for the death of this promising young man. Victims in such cases can seek financial compensation under North Carolina's wrongful death statute, which can force the at-fault driver to pay for the pain and suffering caused by the wreck.

www.wsoctv.com, "Driver who hit, killed teen to appear in court on Monday" Nate Stewart, Oct. 17, 2013

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