It’s a fact of life; as we age, some of us become less attentive and less able to react quickly to emergency situations. Almost anyone who follows the local news can understand this, since we see numerous reports every month describing older drivers and elderly pedestrians who are injured or killed in traffic collisions throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia.
As Baltimore automobile accident attorneys and Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my staff know the heartbreak of families who have lost loved ones in tragic, and many times, avoidable car, truck and motorcycle crashes. Even those who survive a car or trucking-related traffic accident can face weeks or months of hospitalization and rehab treatment in order to get back some semblance of normalcy in their lives.
Sadly, older people have a harder time when it comes to recuperating from a serious traffic wreck; even relatively minor car or truck accidents can leave an elderly individual in critical condition with sometimes life-threatening complications as a result of their age. Pedestrian injuries precipitated by a car crash can be particularly deadly for an older person with broken bones, sometimes compound fractures, and serious closed-head injuries commonly being sustained.
Many families worry about their elderly parents who still drive. While there is no reason that a competent individual cannot continue to operate a motor vehicle into their 80s and 90s, the potential for accidents is known to increase for these individuals as a function of miles driven. Occasionally, very minor accidents — such as striking a mailbox while backing out of the driveway or knocking off a sideview mirror while parking in one’s garage — can portend worse incidents to come. It’s sometimes up to other family members to suggest to elderly drivers to perhaps scale back or even stop driving altogether.
We were reminded of the ultimate consequences of poor or reduced driving abilities in the elderly when we ran across a news article describing a fatal crash involving two vehicles in Falls Church. According to the news, a husband and wife in their 80s were killed when the vehicle they were in was hit by a pickup truck new a supermarket entrance.
Based on police reports, 83-year-old Harry Emlet was behind the wheel of the couple’s car when he apparently did not yield to approaching traffic while turning left onto an access road to the local store. The two-car accident occurred a little before 4pm on a Sunday afternoon and resulted in the death of Mr. Emlet and his 85-year-old wife, Elinor.
Based on reports, Mr. Emlet was attempting a left turn in the couple’s ‘93 Nissan Sentra when he apparently either didn’t see or miscalculated the speed of an oncoming pickup truck driven by 41-year-old Felipe Rocha of Rockville, MD. Rocha’s truck hit the passenger side of the Emlets’ car, fatally injuring the husband and wife.
EMS crews arriving on the scene transported all three victims to a local hospital, but doctors could do nothing for the Emlets, each of whom were pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Mr. Rocha reportedly suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was subsequently released from the hospital.
At the time of the news report, police accident investigators with the department’s crash reconstruction team had not made any determination whether Rocha was at fault, or if their may have been some kind of mechanical problem in either vehicle that may have contributed to the fatal collision.
Elderly Falls Church Couple Killed in Car Crash, Patch.com, September 5, 2011