Stephen Hasner | Savannah News | August 7, 2020
A tragic accident on St. Simons Island in July left one person dead and injured two others.
According to Georgia State Patrol, Charles Connor-Bischof was allegedly passing a vehicle on a double-yellow line and speeding when he crashed. Alcohol might have been a factor in the accident.
The crash occurred on July 15, 2020, around 9:53 p.m. near Ninth Street and Ocean Boulevard just east of Demere Road. It appears that while passing another vehicle at a high rate of speed, Bischoff swerved off the left side of the road. After traveling approximately 71 feet, he overcorrected and lost control of the vehicle.
The 2005 GMC Envoy Bischoff was driving spun around and traveled another 82 feet before leaving the other side of the road. The vehicle continued another 54 feet before it struck a fire hydrant and rolled over. The GMC slid on its roof through a fence and stopped at 360 Ocean Boulevard.
The area around the vehicle flooded with two to three feet of water from the broken fire hydrant.
One Dead, Two Injured
Bischof was pronounced dead at the accident scene. He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. There were three other people in the vehicle when it crashed.
A 22-year-old man from Brunswick was not injured. An 18-year-old woman from Brunswick was transported to a Southeast Georgia Health System hospital in Brunswick for medical care. A 19-year-old woman from St. Simons was transported by helicopter to UF Health Jacksonville hospital for medical care.
Another Deadly Crash Just a Year Earlier Claimed Four Lives
The same area was the site of a deadly car accident just a year ago.
On June 1, 2019, 28-year-old Jade McCray was traveling southwest on Ocean Boulevard near Seventh Street at an excessive speed. Her vehicle crossed the center line and collided with another vehicle. McCray and the 25-year-old passenger in her vehicle died at the accident scene.
McCray’s vehicle hit a Dodge Caravan from St. Simons Island that was traveling the posted speed limit in the area of 25 mph. Fifty-seven-year-old Kent Lalley and 50-year-old Donna Lalley, both of St. Simons Island, were taken to Savannah’s Memorial Health University Medical Center. They died a week later, while in the intensive care unit of the hospital.
According to law enforcement, alcohol was a factor in the 2019 crash, too.
DUI Accidents in Georgia
During 2018, 1,504 people died in traffic accidents on Georgia roads. Of that total, 375 died in accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Nationwide, about 29 people die each day in drunk driving accidents.
Even though the dangers of drunk driving are well-known, 20.5 million drivers admitted they drove under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Another 12 million drivers admitted to driving under the influence of marijuana, while 2.3 million drivers admitted to driving while under the influence of illicit drugs.
Driving under the influence is a crime in Georgia and the other 49 states. The laws vary by state, but most states have severe penalties for DUI convictions, including Georgia. Drivers convicted of DUI charges can face high fines, lengthy jail sentences, probation, suspension of driving privileges, and other punishments.
However, a drunk driver who causes an accident can also face other penalties in civil court.
Civil Claims for Drunk Driving Accidents
In addition to the fatalities caused by drunk drivers, DUI accidents also cause severe and catastrophic injuries. Injury victims might sustain in a DUI crash include, but are not limited to:
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Internal organ damage
- Chest injuries
If a drunk driver kills another person, the family of the deceased victim may file a wrongful death claim against the drunk driver. When a victim survives a DUI crash, the victim may file a personal injury claim against the impaired driver.
Any claim for injuries or wrongful death is separate from criminal charges for drunk driving. The outcome of the criminal case does not decide the outcome of the civil matter. A court may acquit a person of DUI charges, but that person could still be liable for damages in a civil court case.
Damages in a DUI accident may include:
- Medical bills
- Physical pain
- Loss of income
- Emotional distress
- Scarring and permanent impairments
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Insurance companies may fight drunk driving accident claims to avoid paying large settlements. Therefore, it can be wise to consult with a DUI accident lawyer about your rights before pursuing your claim. An attorney can help you prove that the drunk driver caused the crash, and is therefore liable for any damages caused by the accident.