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Virginia boater escapes indictment after fatal collision

In June, a 39-year-old man from Christiansburg perished. The man had been operating a pontoon boat at Claytor Lake, a popular recreation area, when another boater ran into him. Reports did not say whether the Pearisburg man who allegedly caused the collision was injured in the accident or if alcohol or drugs were contributing factors.

The Christiansburg boater sustained unspecified injuries in the wreck; these were severe enough that he subsequently succumbed to them. Reports did not say whether he was survived by anyone in the area, but the commonwealth's attorney for Pulaski County initially filed criminal charges against the other boater. The man was accused of operating a boat recklessly in the fatal accident.

In October, the grand jury tasked with deciding whether the man should be indicted chose not to formally charge him. The man and his lawyer both maintain that he was piloting the vessel correctly and that he did nothing wrong during the tragedy. At the time of reporting, it was unknown whether such arguments played into the grand jury's decision or if there simply wasn't enough evidence to make a trial worthwhile.

Vehicle accidents that lead to fatalities can make life very stressful for survivors. These individuals can wind up having to pay for expensive medical care or funeral preparations, both of which place families under unnecessary strain and make it even harder to deal with the emotional and mental trauma of losing a loved one. In addition, the fact that these victims may have just lost breadwinners could make the costs of post-accident recovery seem even steeper. Attorneys that investigate and reconstruct accidents may be able to help these survivors and victims pursue settlements.

Source: Washington Post, "Grand jury declines to indict boat operator in fatal accident on Claytor Lake", October 20, 2013

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