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Designated driver charged in fatal West Virginia wreck

Having a designated driver when out drinking is supposed to ensure that everyone gets home safe. Of course, that assumes that the designated driver doesn't end up having a car accident. One designated driver in northern West Virginia has been charged with negligent homicide in connection with a pickup truck accident that killed his friend.

The driver and three friends had been out drinking and when the one-vehicle accident happened. The driver told police that he had swerved to avoid a deer just before the crash. His friend in the cab wasn't wearing a seat belt and got thrown around in the cab as the vehicle hit a guardrail, left the road, jumped a culvert and rolled after hitting an embankment. Two friends in the bed of the truck were ejected.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of head and neck injuries. Despite admissions of drinking by the group, West Virginia authorities do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. They say the driver's blood alcohol level was well below the legal limit. However, they say that the thunderstorm soaked road and speed were factors in the crash.

In addition to the misdemeanor criminal charges, the driver in this case may also end up facing civil action should the family of the man killed decide to pursue a wrongful death claim. Filing a wrongful death action won't erase the events of that night, but a claim, which would likely be more successful supported by a conviction on the criminal charges, might help the family recover from the financial impact of their loved one's death.

Source: The Review, "Man charged with negligent homicide," Stephen Huba, Hancock County Reporter, Oct. 5, 2012

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