A simple mistake behind the wheel can quickly have unintended consequences. Those unintended actions turn into an intentional crime when the perpetrator flees the scene, transforming what may have been an average person moments ago into a wanted felon.
This quick cause-and-effect forms the real tragedy of hit-and-runs, where people impulsively engage in a felonious behavior when they may never have considered it at any point prior. Catching these perpetrators is incredibly important, not just for law enforcement but also for the victims who are left to pick up the pieces from the resulting personal injury or property damage.
Luckily, hit-and-run victims have an industrious ally in South Carolina: the state’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, or MAIT.
CheckMAIT for Hit-and-Run Drivers
Every member of the 31-person MAIT team is highly trained in forensics, physics and automotive knowledge. By the time someone reaches his or her fifth year working in the unit, they have clocked 1,500 training hours on average.
MAIT members can sometimes identify the make, model and year of a vehicle just by glancing at a fragment of the car’s front bumper. Other times, they use high-tech processes to calculate with precision how fast a driver was going and when they applied their brakes during a collision.
Together with eye-witness reports and good old-fashioned detective work, MAIT helps the S.C. Highway Patrol catch criminals long after they have fled the scene. The SCHP arrested around 1,200 hit-and-run suspects each year on average from 2013 to 2015. Many of these arrests were thanks to the hard work of the MAIT unit.
Many times, hit-and-run accidents leave very little evidence at the scene that can be used to identify or prosecute suspects. For instance, MAIT investigated the death of a moped driver last year with the only available evidence being a tip about a “dark-colored vehicle.” MAIT’s commander, Capt. Michael Dangerfield also noted that the moped was likely struck by a “higher-riding vehicle” like an SUV based on the damage.
Capt. Dangerfield filed the evidence away, and the investigation bore little fruit at first. However, a colleague from Florida’s Highway Patrol noticed a report from a rental company about an SUV that had similar damage to S.C.’s hit-and-run case. The vehicle was transported to South Carolina, where an analysis indicated a match between the vehicle and plastic pieces found at the scene. After obtaining the rental history, suspect Dylan Pete Walker-Shook was arrested in North Carolina, just three months after the accident.
“Every tip that comes in with a hit-and-run has to be looked into,” Capt. Dangerfield told The State. “If it wasn’t for the tips, many of the cases wouldn’t be solved.”
Finding Justice for Personal Injury Hit-and-Run Accident Victims
Personal injury victims or the families of wrongful death victims cannot find justice if there is no suspect. By collaborating with police units like MAIT, injury victims can help track down their assailant and file civil claims while aiding in the criminal investigation.
If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a hit-and-run accident, contact a South Carolina car accident attorney today. Tatum Law Firm represents clients in both North and South Carolina, and we are more than willing to collaborate with law enforcement to help bring hit-and-run perpetrators to justice. Call (704) 307-4350 today for a free case evaluation.