In a tragic accident on Sunday night, a Northern Arizona University student was killed when she was struck from behind by a truck in Flagstaff. According to witnesses, the truck fled the scene, but was located after a search. Police questioned a woman who was outside the vehicle looking at the damage, and although she claimed she was not the driver, she was nevertheless arrested on charges of manslaughter and failing to stop after being involved in the collision. The report mentions that alcohol may have been involved, although no charges involving driving under the influence have been reported as yet. The story states that the investigation is ongoing.

While it is difficult to determine what happened based upon news accounts, we were curious as to why the woman was charged with manslaughter within a short time of her arrest. No DUI charges were filed at the time, and our curiosity was heighten by a report of a similar tragedy a day earlier, also in Flagstaff, in which a 21-year old man from the Navajo Nation community of Leupp, was killed on Interstate 40. In that case, police state that charges are unlikely, since the man may have been lying in the highway before being hit and killed.

In any event, the alleged driver of the truck that struck the NAU student now faces two felony charges. Under A.R.S. 28-661, leaving the scene of an accident (hit-and-run) involving death or serious bodily injury is a class 3 felony, unless the driver caused the accident, in which case it is a class 2 felony. Manslaughter, which includes causing death through recklessness, is also a class 2 felony.

Was there a rush to judgment? We expect we’ll hear more about the hit-and-run involving the NAU student, and perhaps, although we think it’s doubtful, about circumstances surrounding the death of the 21-year old Leupp man.

Law Offices of David A. Black
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