December 1, 2012--Lewisburg, West Virginia--A third person has died due to injuries from a car crash that took place in Organ Cave in Greenbrier County on November 24. The driver was hospitalized after the car accident that took the lives of two passengers, Dallas Morgan, Jr., 30, of Ronceverte, and Billy Hoke, 36, of Union. Morgan died at the scene while Hoke succumbed to his injuries in a Charlottesville hospital in Virginia.
The final victim, Jason Hoke, 29, who was driving the car, died at a Charleston hospital on Thursday.
Police believe that Hoke was racing a 1997 Nissan Maxima against another car when he lost control and crashed into a tree. Witnesses stated that the other vehicle fled the scene after the crash and did not stay to render aid. Police have not released any information on the possible driver of the other car or what style of car it was, but any witnesses with information are welcome and encouraged to come forward to police.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these young men during this terrible and tragic time.
Illegal Drag Racing: A Deadly Sport
The National Hot Rod Association, an organization that promotes safe racing under controlled conditions, condemns the practice of "street racing" and posts statistics on its website about the number of deaths and injuries suffered each year by those engaged in illegal drag racing. According to the NHRA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration listed 135 fatalities in 2001 as being directly related to street racing, almost double the number from the previous year. The injury rate for street racers is approximately 49 per 1,000 races, making this a very dangerous sport when compared to other sports or regular driving.
Some states have higher street racing figures than others. For example, in Florida in 2001, over 7,000 citations were issued for illegal street racing. However, drag racing can and does take place in every state and there are injuries or deaths reported for most states every year.
What Can I Do To Stop Illegal Racing?
Illegal drag racing is primarily a sport of the young, so be sure to talk to your kids about the extreme danger of street racing before they begin to drive. Besides the obvious dangers of death and injury, street racing carries heavy penalties; young people can lose their driver's licenses, face heavy fines, and even be sentenced to jail or community service.
If you witness a street race, be sure you are off the road and well out of the path of the racers. Try to get a description of the vehicles and immediately call law enforcement. Many street races take place simply because there are no witnesses willing to call the police to stop the racers.
There are two drivers in this situation who may have liability for the deaths of the other young men: the driver of the car in which they were riding or his estate as well as the driver who left the scene. However, both insurance companies that insured the vehicles could try to deny claims to the victims' families for a variety of reasons. A West Virginia personal injury attorney can help the families of the victims understand their rights and take on insurance companies that may attempt to avoid paying benefits or attempt to discount benefits. Before attempting to deal with insurance companies on their own, victims should review Chris Heavens's informational letter, 10 Secrets That Insurance Companies Don't Want You To Know.
Source: WCHSTV, "Driver dies after crash that killed 2 passengers in Greenbrier County," December 1, 2012.
Chris Heavens is a Charleston personal injury attorney with offices in Pennsylvania to serve victims of personal injury or wrongful death in both states.