Two bicyclists tragically lost their lives to a hit-and-run car driver who allegedly fled a Waller County accident scene on foot and then hid in an empty stranger’s hunting lodge. The very brave Brookshire homeowner Mark Newkirk returned, found the man on the couch, and somehow convinced him to turn himself in. A third bicyclist was also injured in the accident and taken to Memorial-Hermann Katy Hospital.
All were part of a planned group ride that supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the 2017 SpringFest Metric Century, an MS 150 training ride. Hundreds of riders were participating. According to Texas State Trooper Eric Burse, the bicyclists were obeying the law and were on the right side of the road.
Trooper Burse also said that upon apprehending the driver, his “demeanor” was obviously abnormal. As more details of the story emerged, authorities learned that the driver plowed through the bicyclists on purpose. Mark Newkirk said he claimed that people thought he was a Russian spy, and that he had to hurt the riders before they hurt him.
Mr. Newkirk said he was talking nonstop, and in different accounts said the man had found his unloaded guns and that he was holding a knife and scissors when found in the living room. In order to coax the driver out of the house, Mr. Newkirk acted like he was on the man’s side during his paranoid rants and miraculously coaxed him into getting into his pickup by saying he would make sure no one was going to hurt him. He drove the suspect to the police where he turned himself in without incident.
The driver is facing two counts of murder, three counts of failing to stop and render aid, one count of burglary, and possibly, leaving the scene of an accident. While his murder charge is a criminal one, wrongful death is a civil charge, handled by personal injury lawyers. Criminal charges are crimes against the state and often result in incarceration, which this man will likely face.
Wrongful death suits occur after someone’s deliberate action (which appears to be the case here), negligence, or carelessness. These suits do not result in prison time, rather with financial compensation. Relatives of the deceased are usually the ones to bring it about, and who is allowed to do so varies by state.
Damages that the family can seek are monetary amounts based on calculations of income to determine what wages have been lost, as well as compensation for pain and suffering. This money can be acquired from the perpetrator by seizing property, garnishing wages, or finding other financial sources related to the guilty party.
As opposed to criminal charges in which the state has to prove the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, wrongful death cases require that only fault be proved by a preponderance of the evidence. For instance, OJ Simpson was found not guilty of murder but was found guilty of wrongful death. Reasonable doubt is much tougher to prove.
At Denena Points, PC, we work with victims’ families in wrongful death cases to make sure that they have the financial support they need going forward while recovering from a tragic loss. In personal injury cases, we fight hard to get the best results from insurance companies and build solid court cases—should that be the best course of action.
Call today and speak to us for free. We will tell you what your rights are and answer any questions you may have with no obligations. You can schedule your consultation by calling 713-807-9500 or by completing the form at the bottom of this page.