Two Athens County women were killed in a one-car crash that occurred in late June. At the time of the report, it is unclear whether the driver, a 44-year-old man from Columbus, was under the influence. Authorities are awaiting toxicology results before filing charges.
The 2008 BMW had been heading southbound on Route 50, when the car veered off the road and into a tree. Two passengers, ages 26 and 44, were pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was said to be in shock when the police arrived and has been hospitalized with serious injuries.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, in cases involving fatalities, it is standard procedure to check for any possible influence of drugs or alcohol. Police are also looking into the possible involvement of cellphone activity. The officer in charge added that once the police were able to better reconstruct the incident, based in part on blood test results and information from the crash reconstruction unit, they would submit their final report to the county prosecutor's office.
In a fatal accident such as this, involving only one car and one witness, establishing the facts of the case and assigning liability can be extremely difficult. The investigation must make use of circumstantial or inferential evidence to reconstruct the events and make sense of what happened. Eyewitness accounts usually play a key role and, in absence of these, lab results and expert assessments become all the more crucial in determining fault.
Once liability is established, however, under Ohio statute, victims' families have a variety of possible remedies. In this case, if it can be shown that driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, the families of the two passengers could file a wrongful death action against him. Through this, they could seek compensation in a number of areas, such as medical expenses, the loss of anticipated income and the loss of the deceased's companionship.
Source: The Athens News, "Fatal crash still being probed", David DeWitt, June 29, 2014