A college student from Northern Virginia is now facing more serious charges stemming from a fatal accident in which one person died and two others suffered injuries.
The man, a 23-year-old student at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been arraigned on a charge of aggravated involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors withdrew the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, along with charges of refusing to take a blood or breath test, and driving under the influence.
In the late-February accident, the man was driving his Mazda 6 when he allegedly ran a red light and struck a Toyota Yaris. The Yaris wound up slamming into a brick building near the intersection.
A 19-year-old woman in the Yaris died shortly after the crash at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center. Two other students riding in the car suffered injuries that were not life threatening. No one in the man's car was injured.
A Richmond police officer witnessed the collision.
Soon after the accident, the chief deputy attorney for the commonwealth said he likely would seek the upgraded charge. The man, he said, drove after drinking a substantial amount of alcohol and accelerated when heading into the intersection.
The prosecutor still does not have the toxicology tests to prove intoxication. Since the driver refused to submit to an alcohol test, authorities needed a search warrant to obtain a blood sample, and prosecutors are awaiting the results. But the prosecutor said all other evidence points to significant consumption. The driver even admitted to drinking before driving, the prosecutor said.
If convicted, the man faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Currently, he is free on $25,000 bond before his next scheduled court appearance on May 2. And even if he escapes jail time, he could be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Source: Times-Dispatch, "VCU student faces upgraded charge in car-crash death of fellow student," Reed Williams, March 23, 2012