Last June, a Poway, Calif. firefighter driving a fire truck broadsided a Honda Accord in an accident that turned fatal. The driver of the Honda Accord, Robbie Gillespie, ran a red light, and his passenger, Evelyn Jean Courtney, died at the scene.
Michael Kinslow, the attorney representing Courtney’s parents in their wrongful death claim, stated that at the time of the crash, the fire captain in charge and the official engineer on duty allowed firefighter and paramedic James Kleppel to drive the fire truck. It was alleged that Kleppel had not yet passed the exam to become a qualified driver.
“If the person who was actually licensed and certified to drive the truck had been doing so, the accident might have been avoided,” Kinslow told U-T San Diego.
Unfolding of Events Leading Up to Fatal Crash
Just before 4 a.m. on June 20, 2013, the fire truck driven by Kleppel was responding to a medical call and heading east. Gillespie, who was headed south on an intersecting road, ran a red light, which led to a collision at the intersection. Just a few hours prior to the accident, Gillespie had been bailed out on a drug arrest. At the time the crash occurred, he was under the influence of methamphetamine.
Gillespie was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and possession of methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty in San Diego Superior Court and potentially faces 10 years and 8 months in prison.
Kinslow acknowledges Gillespie’s partial responsibility for the accident, but still does not excuse the firefighters who should have exercised greater care. In addition to the unqualified driver, Kinslow said that at the time of collision, the fire truck had its emergency lights on but not the siren.
“The failure of the crew of the fire truck to use due care in the operation of the truck was the proximate cause of my daughter’s death,” the claim stated.
Claim for Wrongful Death
A claim is the first step before a lawsuit can be filed against a government agency. City employees and truck drivers must adhere to rules and regulations set forth for the safety of everyone on the road.
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a trucking accident, you will want to consult with an attorney who has experience with these special types of cases. Contact the Truck Accident Attorneys today for a free, no obligation consultation. You may be eligible for compensation.