Virginia Trooper Killed Directing Traffic: Family Wants New Law

A pedestrian on a busy road is vulnerable to the sheer power and weight of motor vehicles and trucks. Those who need to be on foot in traffic as part of their jobs, such as with emergency responders and police officers, are even more vulnerable to pedestrian accidents. However, being vulnerable to injury and expecting injury are two very different things.

In 2012 a 27-year-old state trooper was hit by a Jeep Cherokee while on duty directing traffic on a road outside the Virginia State Fair. He died of his injuries in a hospital. The driver was charged with a misdemeanor for reckless driving and given a $1,000 fine and a suspended sentence; the grieving family of the trooper believe this is not enough.

Now the family is trying to have the law changed in Virginia so that an incident like this is classified as a felony crime. The proposed new bill would make it a felony if a reckless driver seriously injures or kills an on-duty law enforcement officer or emergency responder. The family believes that changing the law would increase awareness of the existing "move-over" law.

The bill has been proposed to the Senate before but didn't receive support because of lack of funding. When a criminal law is changed, the House has to know where money would come from to potentially imprison more people. However, the senator sponsoring the bill believes the financial implications would not be significant.

Whether or not the bill is passed, the family of a pedestrian killed on the road can pursue a wrongful death claim to hold the driver accountable for negligence. In many cases, families receive a financial settlement to assist in some way toward compensating for the tragedy.

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