The loss of a parent can be traumatic at any age, but it’s particularly hard on young children. When a parent’s death comes unexpectedly, such as in a car accident, children and other surviving family members are left in shock, unprepared to continue life without their mother or father.

A family in Londonderry Township, Pennsylvania, is still adjusting to life without a woman who was killed a year and a half ago in a car accident not far outside Harrisburg. The 40-year-old wife and mother of two daughters, ages 8 and 10, was on her way to her mother’s house when the crash in South Annville Township happened.

According to investigators, another woman whose car was traveling between 78 and 88 mph in a 55 mph speed zone rear-ended an SUV. The SUV was pushed into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with the Londonderry woman’s vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The SUV driver and three passengers were injured as well and had to be extricated from the vehicle.

Although neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in the crash, the woman who caused it was charged with homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault by vehicle and other charges. Through a plea agreement she was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter charge and five counts of recklessly endangering another person. As a result, she received a sentence of six months to two years in county prison.

The mother of the victim had harsh words for the woman who caused the accident, saying she’d lost her best friend and support system. The victim’s father said the fatal accident has turned his and his daughters’ lives upside down.

When accidents like this are caused by another driver’s negligence, the victim’s family is entitled to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Although the woman’s husband and children are struggling to live without her, the monetary compensation from a successful civil suit could help offset the everyday financial burdens they face as a result.

Source: Lebanon Daily News, “Palmyra woman gets 6 months to 2 years for fatal South Annville crash,” Les Stewart, June 14, 2012