Last year, a firefighter of 40 years of experience said he witnessed one of the most horrific accident scenes in his career. 14 people were seriously injured and five suffered fatalities in the accident, including an elderly couple, a 6-year-old girl, the driver who caused the accident and a pregnant woman who lost her unborn child in the accident.
According to police, a drunk driver in a pickup truck hit a car going westbound on Chillum Road. Rather than stopping, he fled the crime scene and within mere moments, crashed head-on into a church van that contained more than a dozen passengers from 6-months-old to 70-years-old. Witnesses reported that the truck began to catch fire after he hit the first car, so when he hit the church van, the van and the truck went up in flames. The firefighter and other emergency responders said the flames were so high, they initially thought they were responding to a house fire.
Prior to the accident, the driver had already acquired a record with the state of Maryland. He had previous citations for driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence of narcotics, failing to drive on the correct side of the road, failing to stop for an accident and multiple counts of driving with a suspended license.
According to a study by AAA, 1,023 people in the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. areas were killed by drivers who did not have permission to be on the road within a four-year period. The study goes on to show one in five of fatal car crashes nationwide are caused by drivers who have suspended or entirely revoked licenses.
What happened to these families was tragic, especially given the circumstances. The driver responsible for so much pain should not have been on the road that night. A AAA representative advocated that tougher laws, harsher penalties and more enforcement is needed to discourage people from driving with suspended or revoked licenses and we’re inclined to agree.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. is a personal injury law firm that fights for victims who have been injured by a drunk driver in the Washington, D.C., Fairfax, Virginia and Greenbelt, Maryland.