The hunt continues for the driver of a white, late model pickup truck in Georgia. Officials say the motorist is responsible for callously striking two young children in DeKalb County Saturday afternoon as they waited on the sidewalk, near the entrance of a Tucker Walmart, to cross the street with their mother. Witnesses to the crime reported that they noticed the vehicle erratically making its way down the street just moments before the fatal accident.
One mall patron told local news channels in an interview that she very narrowly missed being hit by the motorist herself, only moments before the driver hopped over a curb, mowed down a two-year old toddler, Caleb, and his older sister, Meyaria, and sped off. Another witness reportedly told investigators that after the driver struck the children, he stopped briefly a few feet away to throw a beer bottle from the vehicle’s cab. It’s possibly an aggravating circumstance but, unfortunately, by the time he is caught, it will more than likely be too late to determine his blood alcohol content (BAC).
The two children were immediately transported to a local hospital. Their mother was not injured. Meyaria, 4, survived and is expected to recover, but 2-year-old Caleb tragically succumbed to his injuries. The local community is already vocalizing its grief and disbelief that someone could commit such a heinous act. The location where the pedestrian accident occurred has quickly become a shrine – with sympathizers leaving behind flowers, balloons and stuffed animals in memory of the deceased child.
The seemingly intentional hit-and-run car accident bears an eerie resemblance to another incident that occurred last month, in which a drunk driver intentionally plowed into a crowd of concertgoers in Austin, Texas. In that case the motorist, who had also stolen the car he was driving, was charged with capital murder in addition to aggravated assault. It is entirely possible that, when caught, the driver in this most recent Georgia case will be similarly charged.
Personal injury attorneys know that there are also civil consequences when it comes to hit-and-run accidents, especially if the driver’s actions are deemed to be intentional. Aside from compensatory damages available to a plaintiff in a suit, in a case like this one punitive damages might also be applicable. Punitive damages, which are typically unavailable in personal injury cases, might be requested where the person being sued intentionally or recklessly caused harm or behaved in a way that was particularly egregious. Even if the accident itself was not intentional, the decision to flee the scene certainly was – and punitive damages are purposefully designed to act as a deterrent for bad and morally reprehensible conduct.
Not only is the conduct of hit-and-run drivers morally reprehensible, but their behavior also demonstrates a blatant disregard of the law. By failing to stop, a driver essentially flaunts his or her decision to eschew their duties as a motorist–obligations that necessarily require the uninjured driver to stop. Responsibilities include alerting emergency personnel if there is an injury of any kind and alerting police officials in the event of a more severe car crash. Regrettably, none of this will matter if the suspect is not apprehended.