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A North Carolina tractor-trailer truck accident claimed 5 lives Sunday night. The driver of the tractor-trailer, Roumen Velkov, has been charged with 4 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of assault inflicting serious bodily injury.

According to North Carolina State Highway Patrol, traffic in I26 had been stopped due to a prior accident involving a dump truck. Velkov, driving a tractor-trailer truck, never hit his brakes and evidently plowed full speed into 3 stationary vehicle, propelling them into an additional 6 stationary vehicles, much like an accordion. One car was even dragged by the tractor-trailer across the median where it finally came to rest.

Truck accidents can occur for many reasons, including driver fatigue, driver inexperience, and faulty equipment. Similar to passenger vehicles, truck drivers have a duty to maintain a proper lookout on the roadway, and to follow the driving laws. If you or a family member has been injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer truck, call Auger & Auger for your free consultation.

The recent deaths of Charlotte-area teen Laura Fortenberry and family man Daniel Herring, at the hands of habitual drunk drivers, Howard Pasour and Kevin O’Hagan, highlights the need for North Carolina to follow New York State and require ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers.

New York’s Child Passenger Protection Act requires that anyone convicted of Driving While Impaired, regardless of whether it is a first offense, misdeameanor, or felony, to have installed in their vehicle, an ignition interlock breathalyzer device. These devices prevent the vehicle from starting if there is alcohol on the driver’s breath. As a measure to prevent a sober friend from performing the test, the device is capable of re-testing the driver at intervals ranging from 5 to 15 minuts. New York Courts also have the option of requiring the vehicle to also be equipped with cameras that photograph the driver. The law requires the device to be in place for a minimum of 6 months.

Both Laura Fortenberry and Daniel Herring would likely be alive today if North Carolina followed New York’s lead and adopted the Child Passenger Protection Act, and the nearly 3,300 people arrested in North Carolina for Driving While Impaired during the 2 weeks “Booze It & Lose It” campaign would be far less likely to be repeat offenders.

Kevin O’Hagan had 6 prior convictions for DWI in North Carolina and served only about a year in prison before killing Daniel Herring in a head-on collision. Shortly before the deadly crash, Monroe Police had stopped O’Hagan on suspicion of DWI. O’Hagan drove away as the officer approached his car. Moments later, O’Hagan had crashed. First responders found O’Hagan and his passenger without seatbelts and with open beer, unconscious but alive, in O’Hagan’s car. Daniel Herring was not as lucky.

O’Hagan has been charged with second-degree murder, driving while intoxicated, felony death by motor vehicle, driving left of center, speeding to elude arrest, and driving with a revoked license. If convicted, what kind of punishment will O’Hagan get? A habitual drunk, O’Hagan has 6 prior convictions for DWI yet only served 13 months in prison. Will he get another slap on the wrist?

This brings to mind the recent death of Charlotte-area teen, Laura Fortenberry, who was killed in July by habitual drunk, Howard Pasour. Pasour had 2 prior DWI convictions and also had open containers of alcohol when he hit an oncoming vehicle head-on, killing Fortenberry. Like O’Hagan, Pasour had a long history of drug and alcohol convictions. Despite Pasour’s 2 prior DWI convictions and multiple charges for drug possession, there were even more charges for driving with license revoked, no operators license, and drug possession in which he was NOT convicted. Which begs the question, what is going on in our courts? If this is how habitual drunk drivers are treated, can we expect more of the same and that these two men are going to get off lightly?

In both cases, courts had the option of seizing the defendants vehicle or having an ignition interlock device installed in defendants vehicle. Revoking one’s license is not a sufficient penalty, as these offenders prove by driving despite not being licensed.

It is ironic that during North Carolina Department of Transportation’s “Booze It & Lose It” campaign this summer, which ran for just 2 weeks, police arrested nearly 3,300 drivers statewide for Driving While Impaired. Local and State Police seem to be doing their jobs, but what about our courts? Is justice being served, or are these cases being dismissed, or adjudicated with a small fine? O’Hagan and Pasour are not the only ones with blood on their hands. We need only look at the way prior charges and convictions were handled to spread the blame.

According to Insurance.com, Charlotte, North Carolina drunk driving accidents rank in the top three cities in the Unities States. The car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger help victims and their families following such accidents.

German ShepardA 5 year old child was attacked by a police dog during a demonstration at his elementary school. Police are re-evaluationg the 8 year old dog, a Belgian Malinois, who has been with the Salisbury Police Department for 7 years, to determine why he attacked and whether he is fit to return to duty. The boy received 15 stitches to close the laceration on his neck and his earlobe was partially torn off.

If you or a family member has been bitten by a dog, our dog bite attorneys can help you with the following:
Medical Treatment
Medical Bills
Lost Wages
Punitive Damages

For more information, call Auger & Auger and speak with one of our dog bite attorneys. Your consultation is free.

Charlotte, North Carolina motorists are at a greater risk of getting into a car accident with a drunk driver than almost anywhere else in the country. This is according to a study conducted by Insurance.com.

Insurance.com looked at the 20 most populous cities in the United States and compared the number of alcohol-related driving convictions to the number of people in a given city. Charlotte had the 3rd highest number of drunk drivers, following San Diego, CA and San Jose, CA, respectively.

Is this study misleading? San Diego, CA, which was ranked highest for drunk driving convictions by population, employs 5 San Diego police officers who specialize in observing the signs of drunk driving, and in making arrests for Driving Under the Influence. Additionally, the San Diego Police Department makes it a practice to apply for, and obtain grant money to fund close to 20 DUI checkpoints annually. So are there really more drunks in these cities, or just better enforcement? Locally, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department conducts at least 24 DWI checkpoints per year. As recently as August 20, 2010, a DWI checkpoint at the intersection of Freedom Drive and Camp Greene Street in Charlotte, resulted in over 100 violations issued, including 7 DWIs in a 2 ½ hour time frame.

If you or a loved one were injured due to a drunk driver, Auger & Auger can help. In addition to obtaining money damages for medical damages, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damages, we can also obtain punitive damages in cases involving drunk drivers.

On Wednesday, October 6, 2010, thousands of Americans will participate in International Walk to School Day by walking or bicycling to school. This program, initiated in 1997, was originally intended to bring attention to the need for more walkable communities. Today, its effect is more far-reaching. It has helped bring more awareness to the Presidential Active Lifestyle Program by encouraging children to walk or bike to school. It also brings attention to the Safe Routes to School Program, which participates in building sidewalks, generating driver awareness, and encouraging students to be more physically active. For more information, go to Saferoutesinfo.org.

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