Eugene Nelson, 51 years-old, lost his life in a Salt Lake City, 500 S. Main St., crosswalk on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. According to KSL News, Nelson was struck by William Ryan Fullmer, 21, from Tooele, who subsequently fled the scene after he collided with the pedestrian in the crosswalk. Fullmer was later located and taken to the Salt Lake County Jail, preliminary charged with leaving the scene of an accident and automobile homocide. Investigators say that Fullmer and his date were driving through Salt Lake City when Eugene Nelson, 51, was in a crosswalk at the intersection of 500 S. Main. Police say that Nelson was thrown approximately 60 feet into the intersection after Fullmer’s car struck him. Police say he died on impact.
According to reports, after the pedestrian was hit, Fullmer pulled over and went to the victim. He alleges that when he saw the deceased victim, he panicked and fled the scene, driving back to his home in Tooele, Utah. And he might have gotten away with it if Fullmer’s girlfriend didn’t step forward and report what happened to the police. She told police that they had consumed alcohol prior to and during the Jazz game they had attended. Police then dr0ve out to Tooele to confront Fullmer about this fatal accident where they found the damaged vehicle.
I offer my sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Nelson for this needless death.
Although the pedestrian was said to have been crossing against a signal, motorists are still required to be aware and look for pedestrians as they approach crosswalks and are required at all times to yield to them — even when their light is green. This story is similar to the sad Salt Lake pedestrian accident in November 2011 when a pedestrian was similarly hit as he was allegedly crossing against a signal. In that case, however, the motorist was not arrested or even charged. Why? He didn’t flee the scene. Even if the motorist in this case had alcohol in his system, which may have been the reason why he fled, he still should have morally stopped to render aid to the victim. While it’s not clear that this motorist’s aid would have helped, it could have, and would have been the right thing to do after he inflicted massive injures on this pedestrian.
Legally speaking, the family of Eugene Nelson, including, if applicable, his wife, children and parents, have a wrongful death claim against the motorist. And even though the deceased may have been crossing against a signal, a careful and prudent driver would have likely spotted the pedestrian and yielded to him. At a minimum, they would have slowed down significantly so that this story would be about an injured pedestrian, not a fatally-injured one.
Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-601-1229 for a free consultation if you are in need of a Utah pedestrian accident attorney.