Fatal hit-and-run in Rutherford County takes life of autism advocate

The idea of being injured or killed in an automobile accident is a sobering one. However, the idea of being in a crash in which the driver who caused the collision leaves the scene in an attempt to escape the consequences of his or her actions adds insult to injury. All states in the U.S. have laws criminalizing the act of hit-and-run. In Tennessee, the act of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death is a felony. In addition, a driver involved in a hit-and-run accident can be held liable for damages if the victim or the victim’s family files a civil suit against the person who caused the crash, then left the scene.


Early in the morning of July 20, a driver in a Ford Tahoe was heading the wrong way on eastbound Interstate 24 in Smyrna, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Several motorists had contacted the police about a vehicle travelling in the wrong direction on the interstate, and state troopers were dispatched to the scene. Unfortunately, they did not arrive before the Tahoe crashed into a car carrying four people. The force of the crash sent the car into a retaining wall. Although all four were wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash, three people were injured; the fourth was killed. The driver of the Tahoe fled the scene on foot.The day of the accident police officers searched diligently for the motorist who fled the scene of the crash, according to The Tennessean.


A member of the Tennessee Highway Patrol stated that the Tahoe smelled strongly of alcohol, so it is possible that the man was driving while intoxicated. Officers found his cellphone at the scene and witnesses were able to confirm that the man who could be seen in several photos on the phone was the man they saw leave after the collision occurred. The motorist was not found that day, but the search has continued. The police have released his name and picture to local media and asked the public for help in locating him.The car accident will have lasting repercussions on the family of the 31-year-old woman who died as well as the community in which she worked. The woman who died in the crash was the mother of two children, one of whom is autistic. She was very active with the local autism community. According to an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the woman had coordinated fundraisers, engaged in community outreach to local police and contacted movie theaters to provide special viewings with the volume turned low for families with autistic children, many of whom have sensitivity to loud sounds.


Although the autism community will not recover from its loss and the family will never be the same, the woman’s husband and children may be able to sue the driver, once he is located, to receive compensation and begin to piece their lives back together.If you have been injured in any type of motor vehicle accident in which another driver’s negligence caused the crash, you should contact a local attorney to discover your rights under the law. You may be entitled to recover damages for economic and noneconomic losses.