Driver faces felony charges in fatal bicycle accident near Maple Falls
Debra G. Peterson, 57, has been arrested for the hit and run accident that killed bicyclist Steven E. Waterman, 51, and injured Daniel G. McKay, 51, around 8:15pm on Saturday night near Maple Falls.
Peterson faces felony charges of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and hit-and run in the bicycle accident.
The Washington State Patrol reports that Peterson struck the men while driving in the 8000 block of Kendall Road. The road does is described as a two-lane road with a narrow shoulder.
Based on reports, Peterson allegedly stopped at the accident scene but then left and went home where she was later found and arrested.
Vehicular Assault and Homicide
The courts take driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs very seriously. In fact, over the past 12 months the Washington state legislature increased penalties for someone who is involved in a motor vehicle accident and either kill or seriously injures another.
If a person is convicted of killing someone while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their minimum sentencing ranges is 78 months.
Felony Hit and Run
Peterson may face additional penalties for hit-and-run. After a car accident that results in an injury or death, a driver must stop their vehicle and provide reasonable assistance to injured persons and must stay at the accident scene until medical aid has been received and information such as name, address and insurance company be provided to authorities. Even if a person is involved in an accident that was not their fault, they must stay at the accident scene and help the injured person. Helping an injured person is not considered evidence of liability.
Leaving the scene of a fatal accident is a class B felony and leaving the scene of an accident where someone is injured in a class C felony. Both crimes are criminal offenses and are punished by jail time, fines and the driver will have a criminal record.
A driver who is convicted of a class B felony faces a maximum prison term of not more than 10 years and a fine of not more than $20,000.
Wrongful Death Claims
When a family member is killed by a DUI driver, the family of the deceased may also seek justice in civil court. Washington state's wrongful death statute allows the family members of the deceased or an administrator of the deceased's estate to seek compensation on behalf of their deceased loved ones. In a civil suit, the surviving family members can seek hospital and medical expenses, funeral and burial expenses and compensation for loss of income the deceased would have provided the family in the future.
Washington Wrongful Death Legal Advice
The Farber Law Group can tell you that the death of the bicyclist in this case is one that may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits can arise from car accidents, trucking accidents, workplace injuries, or any event in which a person was killed due to the negligent action of another.
If you have lost a loved one due to another's negligent actions, you may wish to seek legal advice. Herbert G. Farber, founder of The Farber Law Group, has more than 30 years experience representing victims of motor vehicle accidents and their families.