A young man who stood accused of killing his 19-year-old friend in a drunk driving accident on a North Carolina roadway was recently found not guilty by a jury.
The fatal accident occurred in May of 2013 in Rutherford County on Bostic Sunshine Highway. Prosecutors alleged that the driver was doing about 80 mph when he lost control, running off the road and causing the vehicle to flip over multiple times. Both driver and passenger were unrestrained by safety belts and were ejected from the vehicle. A 19-year-old man died at the scene.
Witnesses reported to local News 13 that they heard the vehicle roll over more than five times. The North Carolina Highway Patrol cited alcohol consumption and excessive speed as factors in the tragic accident.
Prosecutors attempted to prove that the survivor and owner of the car was behind the wheel and convict him of charges of reckless driving and felony death by vehicle. The District Attorney stated that both men had blood alcohol levels above the state's legal limit.
The defense attorney successfully argued that the prosecution failed to provide proof that his client was at the helm when the driver lost control. After 30 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on all counts.
Certainly family members of the deceased were disappointed at the verdict. However, even though no criminal or civil penalties will ever be able to diminish the loss of their loved one, it is fortunate that a criminal conviction is unnecessary to prevail against the car owner's insurance company in a civil court of law in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Source: WLOS, "Man Accused of Drunk Driving in Deadly Crash, Not Guilty" Jul. 23, 2014