Earlier this week, a woman was killed in a motorcycle crash on I-285 in Atlanta that began with a simple flat tire. The deceased was a passenger on the motorcycle that her husband was driving at the time of the accident.
This serious and deadly motorcycle and vehicle collision began with a disabled vehicle, but ended in the death of a motorcycle passenger. The accident is instructive, because the way it unfolded is in some ways a very common occurrence, but some aspects of this accident are also unusual and worthy of serious consideration. As an experienced Georgia motor vehicle accident lawyer, I want readers to understand both the facts and the law in this incident.
To begin with, the driver of a Toyota Corolla had a flat tire and came to a full stop in the second lane from the median on the northbound direction. That driver, Mr. Touray, a resident of Atlanta apparently was not able to, or did not, move his car from the second lane. This failure to move his vehicle has led to serious consequences that might not be obvious to most drivers.
The next event in this series was that an SUV had to stop in highway traffic to avoid hitting the Toyota — thus, the SUV also came to a stop behind the Toyota. The final and tragic part of this accident occurred when the motorcycle, a Harley Davidson, driven by Mr. Jerry Miller with his wife Mary Joyce as passenger, crashed into the stopped SUV. The Millers were thrown from the bike. Mrs. Miller sustained fatal injuries and Mr. Miller was bruised, but is said to have declined treatment. The driver of the SUV was not injured.
The driver of the Toyota has now been charged with vehicular homicide and improper stopping on the highway. This is a serious consequence to a flat tire.
Vehicular homicide in Georgia carries various penalties. Depending on the severity of the charge, whether it is deemed a first or second degree vehicular homicide, a driver charged with this offense can receive a sentence that is anywhere from one year to 15 years in prison. There is some leniency in the penalty for an unintentional homicide by vehicle (second degree) which carries the potential for a fine and the lesser prison sentence.
What is instructive about this incident is the fact that the police have charged the driver of the stopped vehicle with this crime. The driver apparently presented other cars with a dangerous condition by staying in the lane and should have moved to the side of the road — even with the flattened tire and even if it meant damaging his own vehicle.
It is important to consider this in the event that you are ever in a situation in which your vehicle is disabled. If your engine will not allow you to move that is one thing, but if your engine is not disabled and you can drive your vehicle, it is important to get it off the road so that it does not become the hazard that happened in this tragedy.
The driver of the Toyota might not have anticipated the consequences of his blocking the highway lane. Now he is dealing with criminal charges.