• December 29, 2022

Michael Werts Killed by 18-Wheeler on Twenty-Seventh St in Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, NC — June 16, 2022, 41-year-old Michael Werts was fatally injured when his moped was hit by a tractor-trailer on Twenty-Seventh Street in Winston-Salem.

Authorities say the incident happened around 7:20 a.m. at the intersection of Twenty-Seventh and North Patterson Avenue. Preliminary investigation suggests an 18-wheeler was eastbound on Twenty-Seventh when the driver allegedly failed to stop at a steady red light. After entering the North Patterson intersection the truck hit Werts on his moped.

Werts was transported to a local hospital for treatment of critical injuries. He succumbed to those injuries on December 25. The truck driver, 26-year-old Peerless Speller III, reportedly faces multiple charges in connection to the accident.

No further information is currently available.

Michael Werts Killed by 18-Wheeler on Twenty-Seventh St in Winston-Salem, NC

I'd be curious to see what (if any) charges stick in this case. It often is the case that the police are gung ho about pursuing charges against an allegedly negligent truck driver, yet the matter soon fizzles when prosecutors don't follow through on those charges. Why? The reason is because criminal charges for a negligent act are really kind of a round peg in a square hole, when you look at the history of law in America.

There used to be a wide chasm between the world of criminal law and the world of civil law. When a person intentionally committed a wrongful act, that rose to the level of criminality, and they were prosecuted. But when they made a mistake or were careless, that did not rise to the level of criminality, and a victim's recourse was found in the civil courts, not the criminal courts.

But about the time I was born, the law began to change. Suddenly, states started passing laws wherein they regarded some unintentional acts as still being so egregious in character that they should give rise to criminal charges. This was a reflection of the will of the people, no doubt, but there were limits to that will.

It turns out that the will of the people to pass laws is not exactly the same thing as the will expressed by juries to enforce those laws. Thus, over the decades, many a driver who has been prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter and criminal negligence has walked. Prosecutors are essentially politicians, and their desire to maintain a record of wins often causes them to cherry pick cases. When a prosecutor only has so much time to litigate cases with, and they have choose between prosecuting a slam dunk liquor store robbery or taking a chance on prosecuting someone who was criminally negligent behind the wheel of a vehicle, I'm sad to say that they will often pass on the vehicle-related case.

So what's the takeaway here? Unfortunately, it is that, despite the alleged conduct of this truck driver, I would not count on the criminal justice system to save the day. That said, given the horrific outcome in this case, I sure hope I'm wrong and that the trucker who allegedly caused this wreck goes to prison.

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