Police: Citations necessary, even in fatal crashes - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Police: Citations necessary, even in fatal crashes

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Police believe 16-year-old Andrew Hardman fell asleep behind the wheel, causing a crash that killed his parents and three children in Louisiana

The family was traveling from Texas to Florida to visit Walt Disney World.

Hardman was cited with careless operation, which is a misdemeanor charge.

Louisiana Police said that is policy in every vehicle wreck.

Captain Tom Jackson with Dougherty County Police said it's the responsibility of responding officers to assess each scene properly.

"Whenever we go to crash scenes or so forth, we make a determination on how we need to charge someone, whether it be on a traffic summons or whether we need to take a warrant on them. Our biggest thing is when we investigate wrecks, it's our determination to figure out why that wreck happened," he said.

The Hardmans were traveling from Terrell, Texas to Orlando, Florida in a 'dream trip' to Disney World, when the crash happened Wednesday night.

But while the teen was cited, the case could ultimately be dropped.

"Whether we take a summons on you from a uniformed traffic citation or whether we charge you on a warrant, that then goes to the prosecuting attorney which would be the district attorney for us," said Jackson. "We send the case to him and then they make the decision on whether they want to prosecute the case or not."

Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards says in cases like this, he relies on the grand jury.

"If I have not at that point brought the case to a grand jury formally, I just kind of say, 'these are the facts, what do you all think about this?'" he said.

Edwards said all aspects of the case have be evaluated and a severe tragedy like this would be examined closely.

Two other passengers were injured in the wreck, one critically.

The five others, who were ejected and killed were not wearing seatbelts.

The crash remains under investigation.

Copyright 2014 WALB. All rights reserved.

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