A week after a man in a wheelchair was hit by a car and killed, a man who said he was involved in the crash turned himself in to police. The accident occurred Oct. 20 and the man in the wheelchair died several days later, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Christopher Hovey is now charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Police have taken Hovey’s vehicle into evidence in this Clay County Traffic Case, the newspaper reported.
Because the charges are for leaving the scene of an accident causing death, one might assume that Hovey would have avoided a serious charge had he simply stayed on the scene and called police. The problem with that theory is the circumstances of the crash have not been made public. For example, if the driver is driving extremely recklessly – excessively speeding and running traffic lights, for example – a vehicular homicide charge is a possibility. Or, if the driver is intoxicated, there is no way for police to prove that a week after the accident. If police were to talk to the driver at the scene and detect any signs of impairment, officers could take a blood sample to determine if the driver has alcohol or drugs in his or her system. That could expose a person to Duval County DUI manslaughter charge, which also has a 15-year maximum sentence but has a minimum term of four years that the crime Hovey is charged with does not have.
On the Clay County Traffic charge that Hovey is facing, the driver has an obligation to stop once the crash occurs and remain on the scene until police arrive. Further, the driver has an obligation to render aid, including calling 911, if there is a reasonable believe that someone is injured. In this Clay County Traffic Case, it appears that Hovey simply kept driving and did not stop. Because this Clay County Traffic Case involves a wheelchair, by taking the car into evidence police are likely looking for signs of the impact of the crash on Hovey’s car. In Clay County Traffic Cases like this, something as simple as driving down the road can end up with someone facing serious felony charges. It’s not like a drug crime or theft case when someone has criminal intent. People who’ve never been in trouble before can find themselves in this same situation. Our Clay County Criminal Defense Attorney can explain how the criminal justice system works and lay out your options going forward.