The Law Blog of Oklahoma

No Charges to be Filed in Fatal "Hit and Run"

Posted: Friday, July 21, 2017


On July 3, a 13-year-old boy in Purcell, Oklahoma set off on foot to buy fireworks. He would not make it home alive.

At approximately 9:00 p.m., a pickup truck pulling a trailer drove by, its trailer striking the boy and knocking him to the ground. The driver did not stop.

The boy's father, coming to pick him up from the fireworks stand, found him unresponsive on the pavement. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was declared brain dead. The 13-year-old died of his injuries less than 48 hours later.

After the accident, the teens sister asked, "Why didn't they stop to see what happened?"

Police began searching for the suspected hit and run driver and announced that they were looking for

a pewter 2004-2007 Chevrolet 3/4 ton four-door pickup truck with a chrome or silver toolbox in the bed. It had last been seen pulling a black gooseneck flatbed trailer that was loaded with a green John Deere tractor with a front bucket attached.

Now, nearly three weeks after the accident, police have identified the person they say was driving the vehicle that fateful night. Surprisingly, though, they say no charges will be filed in the case.

According to reports, the 70-year-old driver of the pickup had no idea that his trailer had struck anyone that night. He continued on without stopping not because he was fleeing, but because he did not even realize that his trailer hit anything, much less a person.

Police say the Cleveland County driver was "surprised" to find out what happened.

Under Oklahoma law, anyone involved in an accident involving property damage or personal injury must remain at the scene, rendering aid if necessary. 

The penalties for hit and run vary depending on whether the accident involved personal injury or property damage only. The penalties for hit and run fatalities are greater than for hit and run injury accidents:

  • Damage to vehicle only: If a person leaves the scene of an accident involving vehicle damage only, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $500. Furthermore, the person may be ordered in a civil judgment to pay damages three times greater than the actual damages incurred in the accident.
  • Nonfatal injury: Failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving nonfatal injury is a felony punishable by 10 days to 2 years in prison and a fine ranging from $50 to $1000. A hit and run driver involved in an injury accident will also have his or her driver's license revoked.
  • Fatality: If a driver is involved in a fatal accident and fails to remain at the scene, he or she is guilty of a felony punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. The hit and run driver's license will be revoked.

In this case, however, police have determined that the driver's surprise at learning he was involved in a fatality accident was genuine. He could not have stopped at the scene of the accident, because he did know realize that there had been an accident. 


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