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Kansas resident's failed suicide kills couple and unborn baby

A wrongful death may happen accidentally or with intent. In either case, a Pittsburg civil court could rule a defendant is negligent and liable for damages. Compensation goes up when an act is intentional, the same way charges and penalties increase when a crime is committed for a malicious reason.

A former high-level executive with residences in New England and Kansas tried to use his vehicle to commit suicide. The 53-year-old man survived when his pickup vaulted into the air, after crossing an interstate median, and ripped off the top half of another vehicle. The couple inside the car and the woman's unborn child died instantly.

Investigators said the impact was so violent the catastrophic injuries suffered by the husband and wife, ages 24 and 29, were similar to those of some plane crash victims. The former PPG Industries vice president admitted that he wanted to kill himself. Prosecutors are trying to decide whether a charge of reckless manslaughter should be changed to murder.

The manslaughter charge in the New England state carries a possible prison term of up to 30 years. A second-degree murder conviction could mean a life sentence. According to that state's laws, no charges were added for the death of the fetus.

The defendant was freed on $250,000 bond. His actions will be monitored by an electronic bracelet. The driver also is required to undergo a mental health evaluation.

Authorities said evidence collection is still underway, which is the apparent reason the initial charge was not murder. What officials have to determine is whether the accused driver's intent was isolated to his own demise or involved an "extreme" disregard of the safety of others.

Careless, reckless and intentionally harmful acts often risk the lives of more than one person. Harming someone else in a car accident breaches a driver's duty to safeguard others. Awards for damages provide financial comfort for the injuries and deaths suffered by innocent victims.

Source: Associated Press, "NH man may get higher charges in double fatal crash that killed Vermont couple" Lynne Tuohy, Dec. 15, 2013

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