Fatal car accidents are always tragic, but especially when they take the lives of young children. And when the accident is caused by circumstances under a driver’s control, it can be that much harder for the victim’s family to overcome their loss. A recent accident that killed a 7-year-old boy in New Castle, Pennsylvania, and severely injured his 9-year-old neighbor, for example, is being blamed on a man suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.

The accident happened just a few days after Thanksgiving as the two boys were playing in the front yard of the elder boy’s grandmother’s house. The driver of a pickup truck lost control of his vehicle and drove over the sidewalk, up an embankment and into the yard, hitting both boys. The 7-year-old boy died at the scene and his 9-year-old friend was flown to a nearby hospital. Since that time the older boy has been released, but his family says his physical and emotional healing still has a long way to go.

The driver, a 66-year-old man, was arrested after the crash and now faces criminal charges. According to Newcastle police, he was under the influence of controlled substances at the time, including a central nervous system depressant and a narcotic analgesic. Last week he waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of homicide by vehicle, assault by vehicle and driving under the influence. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been ordered to stand trial.

Meanwhile, the boy who survived the accident is struggling to understand it. Friends and family members have rallied around him, helping him come to terms with both his serious injuries and the loss of his friend. The boy recently underwent undergone surgery to deal with scar tissue, skin grafts and other medical issues from his initial treatment — procedures that don’t come cheap. His family has received generous support in the form of home-cooked meals, get-well cards and donations, as has the family of the boy who died.

But medical, funeral and burial costs are high, and neither family should have to struggle financially for an accident caused by another person’s negligence. Whether or not he is convicted of the charges against him, the driver may find himself in a civil lawsuit demanding that he compensate the families for their financial and emotional losses.

Source: Vindy.com, “New Castle man will stand trial on vehicular homicide charge,” Feb. 9, 2013