Eric Rico Hall, age 23, was arrested today in Tamarac, Florida. He is accused of hitting a pedestrian with his car and fleeing the scene. It is unknown whether or not he has been before a magistrate judge or whether bond has been set in his case.
According to news reports, Hall hit an 84 year old Leudda St. Clair as she exited a bus and tried to walk across Commercial Boulevard. According to detectives, St. Clair failed to cross the street at a designated crossing area. She is now receiving medical treatment at Broward General Hospital for life threatening injuries.
While this case is very tragic, it is clear that the victim contributed to the causation of the accident. However, hitting the woman is not the part of this case that makes it criminal. Hall is facing criminal liability for fleeing the scene.
Had he simply remained on scene, he would not have been arrested. Now that he is facing criminal charges, Hall would benefit from hiring a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with accident reconstruction and forensic evidence.
However, it is not uncommon for people to panic or otherwise freak out in such circumstances. BSO detectives also claim that Hall was very cooperative with them and had a valid driver’s license and vehicle registration.
While the victim did not die right away, her age and infirmity may result in her death. Such an outcome would greatly enhance the penalties Hall is facing. First of all, when the element of death is added to his sentencing calculation, his minimum prison points will go up. Second, a judge will undoubtedly weight the death of the victim as a more serious circumstance than serious bodily injury.
However, at the same time, this case is not a DUI, it does not involve racing, or reckless driving, and there is evidence that the victim contributed to the outcome.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors alike will need to investigate the facts of this case a bit further. For instance, is there reason to believe that Hall knew he even hit the woman. Believe it or not, there have been many cases where a pedestrian was sideswiped or nicked by a car and the driver did not know it because the contact was so minimal.
When an 84 year old woman is sideswiped or nicked, she may fall to the ground and sustain serious head trauma that could be life threatening. The point being, it is possible that Hall may not have acted with any criminal intent or knowledge.
However, if the evidence shows that Hall outright hit her and then ran, things will be worse. The fact that he later cooperated with police will be helpful, but may not be enough to save him from prosecution.
Hopefully the attorneys involved will be able to fully analyze this case and determine what the evidence truthfully shows so that justice may be served both for the victim and Mr. Hall.