Driver charged with misdemeanor in crash that killed Brian Strobel
Apr 06, 2012 (The Free Lance-Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
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The man who struck and killed popular radio personality Brian Strobel last month while he was walking a dog has been charged with reckless driving.
Ralph Thomas Rapillo, 42, of Spotsylvania was charged Thursday with the Class 1 misdemeanor following an investigation that lasted nearly a month. Sheriff's Capt. Mike Harvey said police consulted with the commonwealth's attorney's office before deciding to charge Rapillo with reckless driving instead of the more serious felony charge of Involuntary manslaughter.
According to the evidence, Strobel, 64, was walking a dog in the area of Kingswood Boulevard and Harris Mill Court March 7 about 4:50 p.m. when he was struck by Rapillo's 2001 Nissan truck. Rapillo was driving south on Kingswood when his truck left the road, struck and mailbox and ran over Strobel.
A witness immediately began CPR and 911 was called. Rescue workers arrived at 4:57 p.m. and Strobel was pronounced dead at 5:01 p.m. The dog suffered rib injuries in the crash but was expected to make a full recovery, police said.
Commonwealth's Attorney Bill Neely said there was nowhere near enough evidence to charge Rapillo with a felony. He said state law regarding manslaughter requires "gross, willful and wanton recklessness," which includes intoxicated driving, racing and possibly texting while driving.
Neely said speeding alone is not enough, nor are other things such as falling asleep. It is not clear what caused Rapillo to leave the road.
Reckless driving carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Rapillo, who is being represented by attorney Mark Gardner, will be arraigned Tuesday in Spotsylvania General District Court.
The Sheriff's Office has also wrapped up an investigation into another fatal accident last month involving a pedestrian. Harvey said it has been determined that the driver in that case did nothing wrong and will not be charged.
Charles A. Poole, 52, was hit the evening of March 8 while crossing the southbound lane of the 6300 block of Jefferson Davis Highway in Spotsylvania.The driver, a 28-year-old Caroline man, remained on the scene and called 911. Poole was taken to the VCU Medical Center in Richmond, where he died on March 12.
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