Fatal Follies in Hit-and-Run Crash

Photo credit: Washington State Patrol

Three people were killed in a hit-and-run crash on southbound Interstate 5 in Lakewood early Thursday morning.

Washington State Patrol reports say it all began when an driver attempted to pass a semi-truck in the slow lane. The driver went on to cross the two left lanes before hitting an unsuspecting car. The impact sent that car, with three people inside, into the abutment for the New York Avenue overpass. Two of those people were thrown out of the vehicle.

The impact flipped the car onto its roof and sent the vehicle’s engine block flying over the jersey dividers and into the northbound lanes. A third person was still inside the car, but later died, after extrication from the mangled mess.

The vehicle was crushed beyond recognition.

On the Run

Fleeing from the scene of the crash, a 23-year-old man was later found just a few miles south. He arrested for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (DUI).

An off-duty Seattle Police Department dispatcher saw the crash and was able to give authorities detailed information about where the driver fled.

When local police found the driver, he and a woman were outside of the vehicle trying to remove the hanging bumper. The driver’s charges include DUI, hit-and-run, possession of a stolen gun, and three counts of vehicular homicide. He was also driving without a license.

All southbound lanes of I-5 were shut down for a lengthy fatal collision investigation. A 10-mile backup in the northbound lanes and a 4-mile backup in the southbound lanes delayed motorists. A Trooper from the WSP said, “We lost three lives this morning, so we’re not going to cut any corners in the investigation. We’re going to take it very seriously and make it a very thorough investigation.”

Photo courtesy of Kiro7

While state troopers were working on the fatal scene in the southbound lane, the DuPont Police went to assist in a crash in the northbound lanes of I-5. A semi-truck hit a fellow DuPont police officer while he was sitting in his patrol car. He was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.   http://kiro7.com/news/local/breaking-sb-i-5-blocked-in-lakewood-after-double-fatal-crash/712851975

Dangers of Rubbernecking

Rubbernecking occurs when motorists slow down as they pass other vehicles on the road to look at unexpected highway incidents. Slower speeds, and that noticeable turn of the head away from the road, has earned motorists this catchy moniker. Putting fellow drivers in jeopardy sometimes includes more than just a look. It can quickly turn into a lengthy survey of a broken down car or observing the clean-up.

Flashing lights and slowed traffic understandably peaks the interests and gaze of most motorists. Accident response teams hard at work retrieving bits and pieces of what used to be a vehicle. The highway patrol paints lines and markers for investigators to measure, while medics stow life-saving equipment. Crash scenes should make every driver pause for a moment–although not while driving. Sadly, someone on the same road, only moments apart, was not as fortunate in their travels.

The vast majority of victims in motor vehicle crashes are purely circumstantial. Sometimes its just a matter of being in the right place at the wrong time. It can be a matter of seconds that make the difference between survivors or potential victims of any traffic accident.

Deliberate Distractions

Rubbernecking is not only dangerous, but negligent. It can lead to additional accidents, as we seen in the case of the DuPont police officer. He was responding to the scene of a fatal crash and became victim himself in a secondary crash because of a rubbernecking driver.  Although it’s natural curiosity to want to see what caused your traffic delay, it isn’t worth the risk to you or someone else’s life or property.

Road workers, police and emergency medical crews are at their most vulnerable aiding in traffic accidents. Sadly, they should never be in danger from motorists’ wandering eyes and distracted driving.

Reality Check

Distractions happen. Lights and sounds can easily divert our focus from what’s ahead of us. Rubbernecking may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to distracted driving. But making a conscious decision to take your eyes off the road in front of you–purposely giving in to the distraction– is very risky driving behavior.  Not only is it foolish, it is dangerous. The stark reality is, that when you’re behind the wheel, any distracting moment can become someone’s last–including your own. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812013

The Impact of Rubbernecking

Although rubbernecking is a human response to stimulating surroundings, inattention behind the wheel and distracted driving are negligence. This negligence can result, not only in an increase in traffic congestion, but is directly responsible for a 16% increase in secondary accidents. Traffic congestion leads to millions of lost hours in production and economic wages, an increase in air pollution, heightened frustrations with delays, and so on.

Studies of traffic delays show that higher barriers that limit visibility between opposing traffic are very effective way in reducing the chances of rubbernecking and distracted driving incidents. Although costly, they would help to lower one another costly and major problem in our highway systems–rubbernecking. https://file.scirp.org/pdf/JTTs_2014012613374086.pdf 

Our Personal Injury & Auto Accident Lawyers are Here to Help

Not only can auto crashes be devastating for those involved, they can leave families in a state of shock for the senselessness of it all. Seeking legal counsel may not immediately occur to those who sustained personal injuries through no fault of their own.  But it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney to determine what your legal rights are after an auto accident. At Fielding Law Group, we know exactly how to deal with aggressive insurance companies and the paperwork hassle that comes from keeping it all straight. When it comes to getting the job done right, our team will make sure you get the compensation you’re entitled to for injuries caused by an at-fault driver.

If you or a loved one has been in a rubbernecking collision in Washington or Idaho, contact Fielding Law Group today, for a free consultation on how our accident attorneys can help you get financial recovery for your physical, mental, and property damages. By working one-on-one with our clients, we are able to offer the best legal representation throughout the entire resolution process, in order to settle all personal injury claims. Our unparalleled abilities mean that you can concentrate on healing, while we make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Remember-Don’t let an accident wreck YOU!