Two pedestrians were struck at around 2:15 a.m. early Friday morning by a pickup truck while trying to cross the street on Highway 249 near Fallbrook. One of the pedestrians, a 45-year-old woman, died at the scene, while the other, an 18-year-old-male, was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The woman was hit by another car after falling to the ground, but the driver of that car stayed at the scene and cooperated with law enforcement. The pickup, which Harris County Sheriff’s deputies say is possibly an older-model red Chevrolet based on parts that fell off the vehicle, fled the scene after the collision.
This tragic incident highlights the troubling trend of drivers wrongfully leaving the scene of serious wrecks. Texas law, like that of most states, requires a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to a person or damage to a vehicle to, at a minimum, stop and provide insurance information and to render reasonable aid to any injured person. If there is any injury or death, or the damage leaves a vehicle undriveable, then a driver must also immediately call the police.
Failing to stop at a collision is a crime regardless of who caused the collision. Failing to stop at a collision with only property damage is a misdemeanor. Failing to stop at a collision involving an injury or death is a felony.
If the collision resulted in death, as was the case Friday morning, it is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison-the same as the punishment for causing a death by driving drunk. The Texas legislature raised the punishment in recent years in order because the older, lower punishment level incentivized drunk drivers to flee the scene of fatal crashes.
Fatal hit-and-run collisions have been on the rise in recent years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly one in five pedestrian deaths are caused by hit-and-run drivers. 11% of all crashes nationwide are hit-and-runs, but the numbers are much higher in metropolitan areas like Houston.