Far too often we see people convicted of drunk driving who continue to drive until they take a life. That’s the case of a 25-year-old Norfolk man. He has been sentenced to five years behind bars for his role in a multi-vehicle crash that killed a Virginia Beach man.
The accident occurred last September on U.S. 460 in Suffolk. According to the prosecutor, witnesses saw the defendant weaving through traffic at 60 mph or more without signaling. He reportedly ran into a tractor-trailer driven by the victim. Another tractor-trailer and six other vehicles were also caught up in the crash. Six people were injured.
The 48-year-old man who lost his life was reportedly ejected from his semi truck when it flipped over. Authorities say he was not wearing a seatbelt. He ended up underneath part of his vehicle.
The defendant entered multiple Alford pleas earlier this year. With an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges that there is enough evidence of illegal actions for a conviction, but does not admit guilt. An initial homicide charge against him was dropped. He entered Alford pleas for two felonies: reckless driving resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter.
He also entered pleas for misdemeanor charges of driving without an ignition interlock and driving on a suspended license. He was required to have an ignition interlock to measure his blood alcohol content before the vehicle would start because of a DUI conviction in 2012. Although Virginia’s sentencing guidelines call for no more than three years behind bars, the judge, noting the severity of the crash, sentenced the defendant to 12 years and then suspended seven of them.
Families of both the victim and defendant expressed support for their loved ones. Both were engaged to be married at the time of the fatal accident. The victim had children and grandchildren. The defendant, who told the victim’s family that he would take the victim’s place if he could, became a father just months after the accident.
Surviving family members of those who suffered fatal injuries in truck and other vehicle accidents often have little control over what kind of criminal sentence is handed down to the person who killed their loved one. However, they can pursue civil action for both compensatory and punitive damages. This can help them deal with the financial toll of losing a loved one and help them find some additional sense of justice.
Source: The Virginian-Pilot, “Norfolk man gets 5 years in jail for fatal Suffolk pileup” Mike Connors, May. 20, 2014