Hit and Run Problem in the Valley

By: Erin Tate
By: Erin Tate

As the Valley grows, so does the number of hit and runs.

Rick Claybrook, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney, says, "It's inevitable. There's going to be more hit and runs. People think it's easy to get away with and they say, I'm gonna do it."

In the city of Harrisonburg, Master Police Officer Ken Puffenbarger, admits it's a serious issue.

"Yes, it is a big problem here. Most generally, people bump into vehicles and leave the scene not realizing how serious it is," he says.

Hit and runs range from class four misdemeanors to class five felonies, from minimal fines to ten years in prison, depending on the extent of damage or injury involved.

Tuesday, Dennis Strawderman and John Robert Custer were each sentenced to spend 30 days behind bars and be on one year of probation for their involvement in a fatal crash last January.

They both pled guilty to not reporting the crash that claimed the life of a Broadway teen. The driver of the car, Theodore Hulse, faces a felony hit and run charge and will be sentenced in October. He could see up to ten years in prison and heavy fines.

"That's something not very well known. You could serve penitentiary time for that exact offense," admits Claybrook, the prosecuting attorney in the cases of Hulse, Strawderman and Custer.

"Bottom line is, the law requires you - if involved in an accident - to report it," he says.

So, how can you help, even if you're not involved in the accident? Claybrook says to write down the license plate and vehicle description of the person who performed the hit and run and report it immediately to the police.


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