Brittany Musumeci, 23, and Alexis Musumeci, 24, both of Pompano Beach, Florida, were killed in Martin County car accident this past Saturday when they were hit by a wrong-way driver on I-95. The women were driving a 2007 Toyota Matrix when their vehicle was hit by another driver traveling the wrong way. The driver of the of the other vehicle was hospitalized.
Again – and I am not sure how many times I need to say this – we have yet ANOTHER example of how unacceptably dangerous Florida’s roadways are. To make matters worse, the women killed in this horrible accident were sisters just starting their lives as young adults.
We cover these cases all the time – because they happen with such horrible frequency in Florida. Like the recent death of Jimmy Goins, whose motorcycle was split in two by a dump truck, and Steven Caine who was run over as he lawfully rode his bicycle on the shoulder of a suburban roadway.
But this case is different.
It really makes you wonder – what causes a person to drive the wrong way on I-95? In all my years behind the wheel, I have never entered a highway going the wrong direction.
Highways are big structures, they are well lit, and they have a LOT of traffic passing over them to indicate what direction is what – even at the wee hours of the morning when traffic is light. We are not talking about some back country road or a complicated thoroughfare in a foreign country where they drive on the opposite side of the street – like they do in the Bahamas or England.
The bottom line is this – people drive drunk, they drive high, they drive distracted, and they simply don’t pay attention.
As a trial lawyer, there are key pieces of information I would like to explore to truly understand what caused this accident – and to know what could have prevented it.
While we obviously know that this accident happened because the driver of a Jeep Cherokee drove the wrong way up the highway into these poor girls, the ultimate question is why did he do that?
To discover the answer, we will need to look at toxicology reports, medical records, physical evidence obtained on scene, cell phone records, and hear what he has to say for himself.
Because this was a case involving fatalities, Florida law allows law enforcement to get a blood sample from drivers to test for the presence of alcohol, drugs, or medication that would have caused impairment. Police are able to get this blood sample even if the person does not cooperate or refuses to provide the sample. Police can lawfully detain the person and compel him to submit to a blood draw.
From there, the blood sample is properly sealed and packaged. Then it is transported to the Medical Examiner’s Office for testing. Results are usually available within 30 days.
Aside from forcing a blood draw, investigators and attorneys representing the victims’ families can use subpeonas to obtain the man’s medical records. Upon admission to the emergency room, doctors would do blood draws of their own as well as take medical history from the man, assuming he was conscious enough to communicate. Additionally, doctor and nurse notes would contain information about any impression they have that the man may be impaired, such as a strong odor of alcohol or the discovery of a cocaine baggy in his pants pocket.
Likewise, police investigators may discovery open containers in his vehicle or even narcotics.
So far, police have not stated whether or not they believe this case to be a DUI related crash. Nonetheless, it is important to do the homework to see what evidence and other clues can be uncovered.
Again, the ultimate question that needs to be answered here is “Why?”
Why did this man drive his Jeep the wrong way on a highway of all things? It is hard to claim ignorance or mistake when you drive the wrong way on a highway – it is just too big, too well lit, and too full of vehicles traveling in one clear direction or another. It is obvious to any person paying half-attention to what they are doing, assuming they aren’t impaired.
Like a toxicology report, cell phone records may reveal a lot. It would be interesting to know if he was engaged in back and forth text conversation at the time of the accident. It would be very telling if he sent and received multiple texts in the moments leading to the crash.
In any event, as a trial lawyer, I can’t help but analyze this case from an evidentiary perspective. In the days and weeks that come, more information will come to light that answers the “why” question.
At the end of the day, this case is yet another horrible example of how terribly dangerous Florida’s roadways are. If as many people died from a new disease as they do from motor vehicle accidents, Florida would be labeled the epicenter of an outbreak.
My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the victims. For Brittany Musumeci, Alexis Musumeci, and their families, the loss is inexplicable and no answer will ever make it right.