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DUI suspected for chain reaction driver fatality

Drunk drivers impose their reckless behavior on others. Over one-third of the drunk driving fatalities are not the impaired driver, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In 2011, the NHTSA reports, 9,878 people died in drunk driving accidents and 11 percent of these victims were riding in other vehicles and seven percent were pedestrians or bicyclists. South Carolina suffered 828 fatalities in drunk driving accidents in that year, according to NHTSA findings.

A recent suspected drunk driving accident underlines these findings that other motorists and pedestrians suffer from the impaired driver's reckless and illegal conduct. On Oct. 3, a motorist was killed while stopped in a construction zone. The victim's car was rear-ended by another driver at 3:15 a.m. in Dorchester County.

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the deceased driver was stopped in her 2002 Buick behind a 1998 dump truck for a flag man on Highway 78 at Orangeburg Drive. A third vehicle, a 2010 Hyundai crashed into the rear of the Buick. It appeared that the Hyundai driver never slowed down as she approached the construction zone traffic according to witnesses. The crash propelled the Buick into the back of the dump truck.

The Buick driver, a 56-year-old woman from St. George, was pronounced dead almost 30 minutes later at the accident scene. She was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. The Hyundai driver, a 29-year-old woman from Ridgeville, was treated at Trident Medical Center for minor injuries.

The SCHP subsequently charged the Hyundai driver with felony DUI and booked her into the Dorchester County Detention Center. The investigation of the suspected drunk driving crash is continuing.

Drunk driving victims and their families should promptly seek guidance concerning their rights to compensation for medical treatment, lost wages and other losses. Families may file a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of a relative. The establishment that served a drunk driver may also have Dram shop liability for any injured by a drunk driver. Evidence should be obtained quickly because time periods may restrict the filing of lawsuits.

Source: The Journal Scene, "Update: DUI charged in fatal crash," A.M. Sheehan, Oct. 8, 2013

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