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Virginia State Police stated that a nine-year old child who was a passenger in a car with a drunk driver has died. 

The crash happened in late August in Halifax County, Virginia. The child, Julian Suttle, died on Aug. 30 at Duke Medical Center.

The driver, Melissa Rhodes, 28, from Vernon Hill, was charged with DUI, and now has been charged with felony child neglect. Additional charges are pending.


The state police stated that the woman was driving west on Route 360 when she left the road and slammed into a utility pole. Neither she or the child were wearing seat belts.

It is not clear at this time if Rhodes was the child’s mother or a caregiver.

Our View

Our Virginia personal injury attorneys are saddened and angry that an apparently drunk driver has killed a child in her care. We frequently represent clients with severe personal injuries caused by a foolish and reckless drunk driver. Our hope is that the family of the child will soon file a wrongful death lawsuit against this woman.

Our personal injury lawyers are experienced in winning large settlements in DUI cases with severe injury and death. One of our attorneys, Ed Booth, obtained a $3.5 million verdict for a school teacher in Newport News VA who had catastrophic injuries due to a drunk driver.

The woman suffered debilitating, permanent injuries, including anoxic brain damage. If that wasn’t bad enough, she broke almost every major bone in her body, and underwent open reduction with internal fixation to all three bones in her right leg, her left femur, left elbow and hipbone. She also suffered a collapsed lung, traumatic pancreatitis, respiratory failure, hemorrhagic shock, internal bleeding and removal of the gallbladder, in addition to multiple soft tissue injuries.

While she will never be the same, we are glad that she got the money she deserved so that her medical needs will be met for years.

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