Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / Opinion Digests / Criminal Law / Driver’s conviction for Felony hit-and-run affirmed Ê

Driver’s conviction for Felony hit-and-run affirmed Ê

A driver who maintained that he believed he only hit a deer, but who actually hit and killed a person, had his conviction of felony hit and run affirmed.


At 7:00 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2016, Trooper Dustin Eggleston was dispatched to investigate a potential fatal hit and run accident. Police were able to determine that the parts came from a red Ford F-250 pickup truck manufactured between 1999 and 2006. A “be-on-the-lookout” was issued for such a vehicle, and media reports were aired starting between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m.

Appellant called the police to report that he had been driving his F-250 on that stretch of road the night before and had hit a deer on his way home. Appellant testified that he stopped his vehicle, left it running and walked back along the road, beyond the back of his truck using his cellphone screen to illuminate his path as he “look[ed] to see if there was something laying in the road . . . .” Not seeing a deer, he called his wife back to inform her he was coming home.

Appellant’s wife corroborated that he had called her shortly after 10:00 p.m., relaying that he had hit a deer and that about five minutes later, he called her again to tell her that she did not need to come get him.

During his testimony, appellant asserted that “he never saw anything.” Defense counsel asked, “At any point after you heard this thump and struck something . . . did it occur to you that you might have hit a person?” Appellant responded, “No, sir.”

In the trial court, appellant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence. The trial court rejected appellant’s argument and found him guilty as charged.


Appellant correctly argues that, to be guilty of felony hit and run, the commonwealth had to prove he had actual knowledge of the accident itself and that he had at least constructive knowledge that an injury or death resulted from the accident. Appellant alleges that the commonwealth’s evidence did not support a conclusion that he had “actual or constructive knowledge that a person was injured” in the accident. Accordingly, his appeal turns on whether any rational factfinder could have concluded from the evidence that a reasonable person in these circumstances should have known that the accident caused injury or death.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the commonwealth, the evidence is sufficient to allow a rational factfinder to reach such a conclusion. Although it occurred on an unlighted road, appellant’s truck had working headlights. From the photographs of appellant’s truck, a rational factfinder could conclude that the impact occurred on the front, right-hand side of the truck and was not a glancing blow off to the side. The dent on the hood of the truck as well as the shattering of the bug deflector supports a conclusion that the decedent and/or his bike was lifted onto the hood of the truck, and thus, at least for a moment, would have been visible to a reasonable driver under the circumstances. Furthermore, physical evidence from the accident scene supports the conclusion that the truck pushed the bicycle 23.5 feet after the initial impact and pushed the decedent more than 100 feet after the initial impact, supporting a finding that a reasonable person would have recognized the likelihood of significant injury to a person under the circumstances.

Appellant argues that the commonwealth offered no direct evidence to contradict his testimony that he believed that he hit a deer, that he had no knowledge that a person was injured and that he conducted an investigation of the accident scene that did not reveal the existence of the decedent. According to appellant, this portion of his testimony, which was partially corroborated by his wife’s testimony, required the trial court to acquit him. We disagree. Although appellant’s testimony, if believed in its entirety, may provide a valid defense to the charge, the trial court was under no obligation to accept, in whole or in part, appellant’s testimony.


Price v. Commonwealth of Virginia, Record No. 1632-17-2, Feb. 19, 2019. CAV (Russell) from Nottoway Cir. Ct. (Cella). David B. Hargett for Appellant, Alice Anne Lloyd for Appellee. VLW No. 019-7-034, 10 pp. Unpublished.

VLW 019-7-034

Virginia Lawyers Weekly