From today’s Huntington Herald-Dispatch:
Police arrest driver accused of fleeing fatal wreck
By The Associated Press
CHARLES TOWN — The driver of a pickup truck that went into the Potomac River faces charges of fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.
Kevin David Phelps of Harpers Ferry remains free on $50,000 bond following his arrest last week.
State Police say the truck ran off River Road east of Shepherdstown and landed in the river on Jan. 6. Susan Daley, 35, of Frederick, Md., was found submerged in water in the truck’s cab and is believed to have drowned.
Two other passengers escaped from the truck and were treated and released from a local hospital.
Phelps, 30, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, according to Jefferson County Magistrate Court records.
There was no telephone listing for Phelps in the Harpers Ferry area. It was not known Wednesday night whether he has a lawyer.
Note: In this situation, the driver is likely going to be charged criminally with various serious charges. Also, however, he is going to be liable civilly for wrongful death of one of the passengers, as well as for personal injuries for the other passengers. Hopefully this guy has more than a $20,000 insurance limit. However, the civil actions against him are going to have to prove more than that he just left the scene of the accident. They will have to prove that he was negligent in allowing the truck to run off the road and into the river. That shouldn’t be too difficult though given the fact that the truck ended up there in the first place. It would be interesting to know how long after the wreck that he was arrested, and if it was soon after, whether any toxicology tests were done regarding possible alcohol or drug use. If there was, then there would be practically instant civil (and criminal) liability. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.