Court: Drivers Liable for Fleeing Accident Even if They Didn’t Hit

TRENTON (AP) -

A New Jersey appeals court say drivers can be found liable for fleeing the scene of an accident even if it cannot be proven they hit anyone.

The ruling on Wednesday upheld the conviction of Atlantic City taxi driver Jean Sene, who had received a five-year sentence for his role in a crash that killed 88-year-old Bu Do Jo.

Jo was struck and killed by a jitney bus in 2011. She either fell or was hit by Sene’s car first, knocking her into the path of the bus.

The bus driver stopped and gave police a statement. Sene testified that he kept driving for another block and parked his vehicle before walking back to the scene.

A defense expert argued that there was no definitive evidence Sene hit the woman, and that she could have fallen into the path of the bus. A police investigator testified that the evidence showed he did strike the woman.

A judge denied Sene’s claim that physical contact was required to prove he was involved. Jurors instead were told to consider only if Sene was involved and knowingly fled.

Sene’s attorney said the conviction meant that anyone who passes by a fatal accident without stopping could be liable.