Where appellant sped through a construction zone, hit a worker and failed to stop, he was properly convicted of felony hit and run and reckless driving. Because there was a child in the vehicle, appellant was correctly convicted of felony child endangerment as well.
Hit and run
“Pollard contends that the trial court erred in convicting him of hit and run because the evidence was insufficient to establish that he knew an accident had occurred. … ‘An element of the charged crime, commonly referred to as “hit and run,” is actual knowledge that an accident occurred.’ …
“‘Actual knowledge is a fact that may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence.’ …
“Pollard does not dispute the severity of Hogue’s injuries, but asserts that the evidence was insufficient to establish that he had knowledge that an accident had occurred as he sped through the construction zone. Pollard highlights that the responding officers did not observe ‘any signs of damage to the vehicle that would indicate a serious collision.’
“Pollard also emphasizes that he cooperated with the officers but consistently denied that an accident had occurred. Pollard concludes the evidence demonstrates that he ‘lacked “actual knowledge” that an accident occurred.’ Pollard further contends that he ‘could not reasonably have believed an injury resulted from an accident of which he was unaware.’
“Pollard’s appeal turns on whether the circumstantial evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom support the trial court’s factual finding that Pollard had actual knowledge of the accident. We conclude that – when properly viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth – the evidence is sufficient to allow a rational fact-finder to conclude that Pollard had such knowledge.
“Pollard drove the SUV in a construction zone at a high rate of speed. Pollard applied the brakes just before his SUV hit Hogue. Moreover, Pollard made eye contact with Hogue and was looking at Hogue just before the SUV hit him. Pollard’s SUV hit Hogue so forcefully that it ‘spun him like a top’ and threw him to the ground.
“At the time of the accident, Hogue was using orange paint to mark the road, and the front of Pollard’s SUV was bespattered with orange paint. Three witnesses saw the front of Pollard’s SUV hit Hogue. In light of these circumstances, a rational fact-finder could reject as unreasonable Pollard’s claim that he was not aware an accident had occurred.”
“Pollard asserts that ‘[t]he evidence showed that a child was present in the car with [a]ppellant and another adult but did not establish anything more.’ Citing, for comparison, Code § 18.2-270(D) – providing a sentencing enhancement for driving while intoxicated while transporting a minor – Pollard argues that the General Assembly only intends for drivers to be responsible for the care of minors when that role is expressly stated.
“Relying on the fact that there was another adult passenger in the car he was driving, Pollard further contends … that a driver is only responsible for the care of minor passengers under Code § 18.2-371.1 when the driver is the only adult in the vehicle. We reject both of these contentions. …
“As the driver of a vehicle in which a four-year-old child was a passenger, Pollard exercised care and control over that child, even in the presence of another adult.
“We reject Pollard’s argument that the presence of another adult automatically eliminates his responsibility because there is nothing in Code § 18.2-371.1 that conveys ‘that an individual cannot have joint responsibility with another individual for the child.’”
Pollard v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0753-21-1, Sept. 27, 2022. CAV (Chaney) From the Circuit Court of York County (Rizk). Richard G. Collins for appellant. Robin M. Nagel, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-419, 10 pp.