In some cases, an accident where a driver hits a pedestrian seems to encourage the driver to leave the scene and not stop as legally required. A driver who hit two teens who were crossing a street in the Bronx was charged with reckless driving and with leaving the scene of an accident causing death, according to New York police. Although the 26-year-old male driver of a Honda Accord decided to return to the scene after he fled, police nonetheless filed leaving the scene felony charges against him.
A 16-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl were crossing Baychester Avenue at Crawford Avenue when the Honda barreled into them, sending the boy airborne into oncoming traffic. He was then hit by an approaching vehicle. He was transported by ambulance to Jacobi Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival. The girl remained in critical condition at the hospital.
Strangely enough, the second driver also did not stop. That seems ironic because that driver was likely faultless — he or she could not foresee that a body would suddenly be hurled in front of him or her on the highway. However, the individual obviously panicked, or was perhaps trying to hide some other illegality and did not choose to stop.
The second impact raises a potential defense for the defendant with respect to criminal causation. If the second impact was responsible for the death, then the absence of the second driver may create a void at trial, or even at sentencing, that could benefit the defendant. It might be sufficient to at least raise questions as to whether the defendant was totally responsible or substantially responsible for the death.
It’s a slim argument but one that may have more fuel if the second driver is never apprehended. In any event, the defendant driver also has the defense of actually having returned to the scene. It is not known how long it took for that to occur, but it tends to militate against a finding of criminal intent to the felony charges filed against him. It may be a viable defense under New York law if the defendant chooses to take the case to trial.
Source: New York Daily News, “Driver slapped with felony after 2 teens struck, 1 killed“, Tina Moore, Jan. 5, 2015