Hit and run accidents, or the official term "leaving the scene of an accident", are all too common in my experience, at least as a Missouri car accident lawyer; I see people severely injured and even sometimes killed by hit and run drivers. This is one reason why I keep the maximum amount of uninsured motorist coverage on all my cars, to protect myself and my family. I strongly recommend that everyone have high uninsured motorist policy limits as hit and run a accident are becoming more common. An unidentified driver is an uninsured motorist under Missouri law. See "Uninsured Motorist 'UM' Claims".
Recently, a St Louis county police officer hit another vehicle while off duty but driving a county patrol car; he fled the scene of the car accident. See "St. Louis County Police Officer accused in hit and run wreck". Under Missouri law leaving the scene of an accident is a class A Misdemeanor if the collision only caused less than $1000 in property damage, if the property damage is greater than that or an injury resulted, then a hit and run is a Class D Felony. See Missouri Statute 577.060.1: "Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident."
Why do people run from the scene of an accident? Usually it is because they are drunk and do not want to face the penalties of DWI, also they may be unlicensed, have warrants for their arrest, or simply do not have insurance. No matter what the reason, hit and run cases must be dealt with harshly, and jurors have a very strong reaction to drivers whether identified or not, who run from accidents leaving innocent injured victims. Sometimes leaving the scene means no one able to call 911 to get the hurt people help, sometimes this delay in getting 911 help results in death. Especially because most of these hit and run incident happen late at night or on rural roads, so if the victims are knocked out there is no one available to call 911.
According to www.deadlyroads.com a hit and run victims advocacy group, the top reasons for hit and runs are described as follows:
"To break it down, I call some of the most common reasons "DUSA"(Driving in the USA)
D - Driving impaired (drinking, drugs), drowsy, distracted
U - Unlicensed driver or car, suspended or revoked, uninsured
S - Self preservation (status to protect, scared), stolen vehicle, street racing
A - Aggressive driving(road rage), amorality, Age (youthful immaturity)"
This St Louis County police officer probably has experience responding to hit and run accidents and knows the deadly consequences delay in emergency personnel responding can cause. The police are being very quiet about how they are handling this situation, but this officer should be dealt with harshly. Why did he flee the accident? was he drunk? what other reason would he have for not reporting this?
Recent witness reports state:
"I saw him come blowing through a stop sign," .... "You just brace yourself for impact-and then he just stopped. I had to reverse and go around the officer." The witness lived on the same street as the officer and saw him pull into his driveway and then stated, "then we looked down the street and saw the guy and his wife -she's trying to get him out of the seat by the arm-was dragging him and everything." See "New witness comes forward in St. Louis Co. officer hit-and-run case"
I find this outrageous, if the driver was not a cop they would have been immediately arrested and charged with leaving the scene and probably investigated for DWI. So right now, you have a possible drunk cop that left the scene of the accident and an arrest has not even been made. If his physical condition was related to anything else but drugs or alcohol I guarantee you would have already heard a statement from the police that he went to hospital and was treated for a heart attack, seizure, or something that could explain his physical condition; but that is not the case here. St Louis County cops looking after their own and not the citizens they are supposed to serve. The police are still staying silent about the case other than to acknowledge that is occurred.
Related St Louis area hit and run car accident blog posts: