What was supposed to be a simple winery tour ended in tragedy last weekend for a group of eight young women when their limousine was broadsided by a pickup truck, resulting in four of their deaths.
The accident occurred around 5 p.m. last Saturday on the North Fork of Long Island just after the limousine left a nearby vineyard. According to a report by The New York Times, the limousine was attempting to make a U-turn on County Road 48 to head west as it was struck by a pickup truck already travelling in that direction - a pickup with an alleged drunk driver at the wheel.
District Attorney Thomas J. Spota told The New York Times that the driver of the pickup remained at the accident scene for roughly 15 minutes, but then walked away and initially ignored police when told to stop, although he eventually did so. According to Bob Clifford, Spota's spokesman, the pickup driver was charged with driving while intoxicated due to his alleged instability, the smell of alcohol, and because he admitted he had been drinking beer.
While the driver of the limo did pass a breathalyzer test, his role in the accident is being examined as well. A witness told police that the limo driver turned directly into the path of the pickup when he was making the U-turn, although, according to Mr. Spota, the limo driver claims he did not see any oncoming vehicles in the westbound lanes. In any case, the limo driver is not currently facing charges.
We have a shared responsibility to keep the roads safe
While it is still too early to know for certain if drunk driving or negligence on the part of the limo driver - or both - are to blame for these tragic traffic fatalities, this accident serves as a sad reminder that all drivers are responsible for keeping our roads safe. Failure to abide by the rules of the road may lead to not only criminal liability, but a civil liability as well.