Jasmine Rupcke, a Mayfield resident, called the state police on the evening of December 17th to say she had hit a deer on U.S. 45 North. The police now say she actually hit pedestrian Amanda Czerwien as she walked home from work. The Graves County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 6 pm about a person lying in the road. They found Czerwien, who they pronounced dead at the scene. When the state police got Rupcke’s call, they started putting together the pieces of a hit-and-run.
The state trooper who examined Rupcke’s minivan concluded the damage “was not consistent with a deer collision.” The sheriff’s office arrested Rupcke on several charges, including failure to aid or assist when death or serious injury is involved, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license or insurance.
Almost 6,000 pedestrians died in accidents in 2016 across the nation. Most states, including Kentucky, require vehicles to yield to pedestrians who are in a crosswalk. Pedestrians in Kentucky do have to follow all traffic laws, however, and must stay to the far side of the shoulder when walking on a highway, if no sidewalk is available. Drivers still must “exercise due care” to avoid hitting a pedestrian, whatever the situation may be. The police did not comment on where they believed Czerwien was walking at the time Rupcke struck her. Rupcke and her passenger both stated they thought she had hit a deer.
Kentucky law very clearly states that every driver has a responsibility to stop at the scene of an accident causing injury or death to another person and attempt to provide aid. They also must call the police to report the accident. Failure to do these things constitutes a felony in Kentucky. The requirement to stop does not hinge on whether the driver is at fault. They must stop either way.
Pedestrian accidents are already extremely dangerous and likely to cause catastrophic injuries or death. When the one person who could help flees the scene, they take the pedestrian’s best hope of survival with them. Rupcke could face penalties from a hefty fine to jail time for her actions.