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When involuntary manslaughter tears families apart

According to FindLaw, drunk drivers may be charged with involuntary manslaughter if the crash is fatal. However, this has become such a problem in North Carolina that there is a separate charge for these offenses, known as vehicular manslaughter.

There is usually strong public opinion against people who commit vehicular manslaughter, but there are some instances where drunk driving or reckless driving were not involved. There have, for instance, been countless cases of grandparents accidentally backing over toddlers or an overworked employee falling asleep at the wheel on the way home and running a red light.

Do these instances still qualify as murder? For the families of these victims, the answer is not an easy one. When the defendant is a stranger, they may blame that person for their negligence. If they were tired, why did they not pull over in a parking lot and sleep it off? Why did they not double-check the backup camera or rearview mirrors before pulling out of the driveway?

When the person held responsible is a beloved family member, and the death was truly accidental, people often struggle with how to view or judge the situation. This may be as true for the general public and the media as the jury. One such incident occurred when Florence touched down in North Carolina.

According to CNN, one woman drove around barricades on the state highway and later encountered flood waters. The water swept her vehicle away until it came to a stop against some trees. She was able to free herself from the vehicle and took her son with her, but she lost her hold on him and he was swept away in the water. He was only one year old. He drowned in the floodwaters. She was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

How these situations are dealt with differs from case to case. What goes without saying is that whatever the outcome, intense negative emotions are often felt as much by the grieving parents as the guilt-ridden defendant. What is even worse is when they are one and the same.

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