Recently, a judge in Westfield, New Jersey, suspended the sentences for two elderly men involved in a hit-and-run that left a 68-year-old hospice nurse dead. The alcohol-related accident allegedly occurred when the two men struck the woman while she tended to an injured pedestrian. The two men admitted to drinking before the accident at a local Knights of Columbus Hall. The victim had struck a pedestrian with her car shortly before the accident, and had gone out to help him when she was hit by the two men. The woman died at the hospital from her injuries from the accident. Both men stopped after the accident, but one left before police arrived and he was charged with hit and run.
Both of the men, an 85-year old Navy veteran who served during World War II and the Korean War, and a 75-year old, were sentenced to a term of between three to five years in prison for vehicular homicide, but the judge suspended the sentence on account of the defendants’ advanced ages and lack of prior criminal records. Both of the men are prohibited from driving, and are under parole supervision. The judge’s suspension outraged the victim’s family, who felt that the two men should serve jail time for their offense.
This case illustrates the costs of drunk driving accidents for the families of the victims. In addition to the shock and grief of losing a loved one, there are also financial considerations, such as funeral and medical expenses and lost income from the family member. The loss in this case is especially severe due to the fact that the two men will not serve jail time, which can be interpreted as allowing them to get away with vehicular homicide.
The families of those killed or injured by drunk driving accidents are entitled to a monetary compensation for their damages, such as medical bills, lost wages and any temporary or permanent disability incurred. They also have the right to file charges against the defendant for drunk driving. Anyone impacted by an alcohol-related accident has the power to seek a remedy for their suffering.
Source: The Star Ledger, “Judge suspends sentences for senior citizens in fatal Westfield drunk driving accident,” Tom Haydon, May 10, 2013