Culpeper Accident Highlights Dangers that Youthful Drivers Present

Posted on Sep 29, 2016

An August 2014 accident that resulted in severe injuries to a Lutheran Pastor and his wife was the result of a father's decision to allow his son, who had no driving experience and had only received his learner's permit two days earlier, to get behind the wheel and take control of the family vehicle on a public road. The accident occured at the corner of Green's Corner and Cyclone Way, in Culpeper, when Chadick Hedgepath, then 15, turned his car in front of a car being driven by Ken Martin. Martin suffered severe injuries to his leg and has undergone nine surgeries. His wife, who was with him in the car, suffered multiple broken ribs.

"This very well meaning father had no experience in teaching his child how to drive and as a result, he assumed that his son saw the Martin vehicle as it was approaching on a level, straight, road," said Benjamin Glass, attorney for the Martins.

Although court papers filed on behalf of Hedgepath claimed that he was not responsible for the accident, once Hedgepath was put under oath and in front of a video camera he agreed that the accident was his full responsibility. His father testified that "he made a terrible decision" to let his son drive.

Virginia law allows young drivers with no experience to get behind the wheel and get on the road as long as there is an adult, licensed driver in the front passenger seat. "Parents need to understand that it takes hours and hours of practice driving before teenagers should be allowed to drive on public roads" said Glass.

"It's incredible that this family's insurance company put this young man through a deposition", said Glass. They should have said "yes, this young driver is responsible for these injuries." 

Trial in the matter will be held in Culpeper Circuit Court in 2017.