Lending a helping hand cost a Henry County police officer his life Monday night.
Officer Elgin L. Daniel stopped on Highway 138 to assist a driver who had run out of gas. While Daniel and a worker from a roadside assistance company were offering help, a driver allegedly hit the two men and sped off, CBS Atlanta reports. Daniel later died from his injuries.
Gordon Jarrett called a roadside assistance company when his Ford Mustang ran out of gas in the center turn lane of the highway. Daniel was the first to arrive at the scene. Soon after, John Cook, a worker from the company, showed up with a tank of gas.
"They were helping me put gas in," Jarrett told CBS Atlanta. "The next thing I know, I saw these two bodies go flying through the air. Then the guy took off. It looked like he stopped, looked back and then took off again."
Both Daniel and Cook were taken to Atlanta Medical Center for treatment, but Daniel didn't survive. Cook's injuries, on the other hand, weren't life-threatening, according to authorities.
If apprehended, the driver will likely be charged with vehicular homicide. In general, a person who causes the death of another person while committing a dangerous driving offense can be charged with vehicular homicide. Relevant offenses include failure to stop at the scene of an accident and reckless driving.
There's a pretty clear case for reckless driving here. Monday's rain had made the road slick, and the driver was reportedly going way too fast for the conditions. In addition, Daniel had the blue lights flashing on his cruiser, making his vehicle very visible.
On top of any criminal charges, Daniel's family may want to file a civil suit against the driver in order to receive compensation for their loss. A wrongful death suit is usually brought by the family of a person who died due to the negligence of another.
If the driver is convicted of vehicular homicide or a similar offense, Daniel's family will have a good case for negligence per se. Under that legal doctrine, an act is considered negligent because it violates a safety law. If the suit is successful, the family could win damages for any medical costs, funeral expenses, lost financial support, and the loss of consortium that resulted from the accident.
As for the hit-and-run driver, authorities are looking for a 1997-2007 Ford F-250 or F-350 pickup with significant damage to the front driver's side. If you've seen the truck, you should call 911.