Have you ever been driving on the highway and suddenly something flies into your windshield? Or better yet, when a tire from another vehicle suddenly blows and comes into your traveling path? The feeling can be very scary, even when something soft and non-damaging hits your windshield such as a stray plastic bag that came out of nowhere. Imagine driving down the highway and having a hard, heavy rock crash into your windshield, causing damage to you, your vehicle and maybe even causing you to get into a collision.
It appears that some teenagers have received a thrill from committing such acts recently. Most recently, late last month five teens in Flint, Michigan were accused of throwing rocks at vehicles beneath an overpass on a highway. In committing this violent act, a young man was killed after one of the rocks smashed into the windshield of a vehicle that he was a passenger in. The rock allegedly went through the windshield and struck the passenger. Although this passenger was the only person to die, there were at least four other vehicles that were damaged from additional rocks that were allegedly thrown by the five teenagers. Unfortunately, this is not the only rock throwing incident that has occurred. This past May in Cumberland County in north carolina, three teens were arrested after several 911 calls were made stating that rocks were being thrown at cars on Interstate 95. Three teenagers were arrested after police arrived at an overpass and identified the young men. Although fortunately no one was injured or killed during this occurrence, at least three individuals had vehicle damage.
Additionally, this past May, two teenage high school students were arrested and charged with throwing rocks at both pedestrians and vehicles on Elliot Farm Road.
Although teenagers and young adults seem to get a thrill out of throwing rocks at pedestrians and/or vehicles, it must be noted that this activity is extremely dangerous, can kill people and can get one into big legal trouble. There are a variety of charges that one can be charged with regarding throwing rocks at vehicles and/or pedestrians. Some of which include: second degree murder, malicious destruction of property and assault with a deadly weapon.
Under North Carolina General Statute (NCGS) § 14-17, second degree murder requires malice. The malice needed to prove second degree murder is based on:
- An inherently dangerous act or omission, done in such a reckless or wanton manner as to manifest a mind utterly without regard for human life and social duty and deliberately bent on mischief.
- The murder is one that was proximately caused by the unlawful distribution of opium or any synthetic or natural salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium, or cocaine or other substance described in G.S. 90-90(1)d., or methamphetamine, and the ingestion of such substance caused the death of the user.
NCGS § 14-17(b)(1-2).
With the relevant law provided, it should now be clear as to why one will likely be charged with second degree murder if someone dies after sustaining injuries from a rock that was thrown at a vehicle. Although the goal is probably not to kill someone when throwing rocks off an overpass, the act of throwing the rocks is very reckless and it is obvious that the thrower has no regard for human life because it is foreseeable that someone could die after having a rock smash into their car while driving.
When thinking of assault with a deadly weapon, many people assume that there must be an actual weapon such as a gun or knife, which is false. Any object can be regarded as a deadly weapon, depending on the manner it is being used. Thus, on an ordinary day a rock is not a deadly weapon, but when being thrusted from an overpass into a vehicle, a rock can very well be regarded as a deadly weapon. North Carolina courts have determined that based on the surrounding circumstances, if an object is likely to cause death or bodily injury, the object may be classified as a deadly weapon. So just as a rock is not considered a deadly weapon while it is laying on the ground, but is a deadly weapon if it is thrown at a vehicle, a book with sharp edges can be a deadly weapon if it is thrown at someone in a manner where the thrower had a reckless disregard for the life of the person who the book was thrown at.
If you are a person who tends to get thrills from engaging in activities such as throwing rocks at vehicles or pedestrians, hopefully reading this article will encourage you to not engage in such activities due to the consequences that can come with such activities if you are caught. If you are on the other end of the spectrum and have been injured from this malicious activity or something similar, please contact our office at (704) 714-1450.