Legally, a driver has the responsibility to control his or her vehicle. When a driver's mistake or negligence leads to an accident, the driver is legally responsible for the consequences of the accident, even if the driver's error was inadvertent.
Albany County authorities investigating a fatal accident involving a runaway vehicle are indicating that the accident happened because a driver's flip-flop slipped off her foot. Something as small as a flip-flop or a sandal can have tragic effects when it interferes with the accelerator or brakes on a motor vehicle.
The car versus pedestrian accident happened on Wednesday morning, as three women gathered outside of St. Matthew's Church in Voorheesville, New York. About the same time, a 55-year-old woman had dropped her foster child off at a nearby school and was driving away when he flip-flop apparently fell off. According to Craig Apple of the Albany County Sheriff's Office, either the driver attempted to retrieve the flip-flop or it was stuck under the gas pedal when the Toyota Highlander raced out of control.
As mass was going on inside of the church, the Highlander hit the corner of the church then hit one of the women before dragging the other two women through the church's vestibule, killing them instantly.
The women who died in the accident were walking in a 5K walk around the Voorheesville hosted by the Empire State Capital Volkssporters walking club. They had stopped at the church to use the restroom and were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Authorities indicate that an investigation of the accident is ongoing, and that they will decide whether to file charges against the driver involved in the accident after the investigation is completed.
Source: Albany Times Union, "Morning of horror in quiet churchyard," Bryan Fitzgerald, Dayelin Roman, Paul Grondahl, Aug. 10, 2011