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Former astronaut criminally charged for fatal car accident

A former astronaut was charged with murder after a two-car accident killed two children on June 6. The 59-year-old astronaut James Halsell Jr. was driving along a rural road in Alabama at around 2:50 a.m. when he rear-ended a Ford Fiesta. The Fiesta was pushed across its lane before it flipped, ejecting two sisters.

Two other occupants of the Fiesta, the girls' 37-year-old father and a 25-year-old woman, survived the accident. According to a court deposition statement from a state trooper, Halsell had slurred speech, an unsteady gait and an odor of alcohol when he was observed after the crash. Court documents also state that Halsell does not remember the car accident. A motel room where Halsell was staying before the crash was found to contain an empty wine bottle and an empty container of sleeping pills.

The two deceased victims from the crash were reportedly riding in the vehicle without any seat belts on. They had been picked up by their father from their mother's house in Texas and were going to be spending the summer with him. The area where the accident occurred is wooded and does not contain any streetlights.

When it is clear that a driver's negligence was the cause of a car accident, injured victims may want to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault motorist even if no criminal charges are filed. A lawyer representing a plaintiff can use the results of the police investigation report, eyewitness testimony and other evidence to prove that a driver's alcohol or drug consumption was the cause of the collision.

Source: ABC News, "Ex-Astronaut Charged With Murder in Car Wreck That Killed 2," Associated Press, Jay Reeves and Phillip Lucas, June 7, 2016

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