PERSONAL INJURY BLOG

Not Too Young to Be a Hero

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Ten-year-old William Wyatt Kunert of Cheyenne, Wyo., didn't hesitate when a dog attacked him and his 2-year-old brother, Jordan Martinez.

The brothers were on their own front porch when a neighbor's pit bull managed to jump over the fence around its yard and charged the boys. The fence in question was 4 feet high, but the animal still managed to get over it.

Kunert, who has been attacked by dogs in the past, got Jordan into the house and tried to slam the door against the pit bull. But the dog got there too fast for that, and clamped onto Kunert's leg for long, painful minutes. The bite left severe injuries that required multiple surgeries to repair.

According to William's mother, the dog would probably have killed Jordan if it had gotten a hold of him instead of the older boy, given the severity of William's injuries.

Kunert said he knew the dog was going to bite him if he got Jordan out of the way, but he did it anyway, even though he has scars on his face from an equally painful bite in the past.

Kunert's brave actions have been rewarded, however. The American Medical Response Team gave the young hero their Everyday Heroes award in honor of his courage.

A representative of the AMRT said that courage is more about acting despite fear than about not having it, and said that Kunert's actions are an example of everything Emergency Responders stand for. Officials praised his actions, calling him a "hero among heroes" at the ceremony. Kunert is the first recipient of the new award, making the occasion all the more special to him and his family.

For his part, Kunert has recovered well from his injuries. He is able to play normally, without any serious, lasting damage from the attack.

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Boy Killed in Motorcycle Accident

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eight-time DUI Offender Convicted of Murder

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Edward Schaefer was convicted of murder in the 2nd degree on Thursday for the killing of a child he struck with his motorcycle in a crosswalk in Novato, Calif. Schaefer has eight previous DUI offenses to his record. The jury returned their verdict in less than four hours, saying that his DUI history showed malice.

Schaefer's driving history leading up to the accident includes the eight DUI charges and convictions, probation for 14 years and assorted judgments such as rehab treatment and license forfeiture. Even with such measures put in place, Schaefer still had access to a motorcycle and rode it through a stop sign, plowing into the Osheroff family, killing one of them and injuring the others.

The Osheroff family expressed gratitude for the verdict of guilty for five felony counts. Aaron Osheroff said that he remembered lying in the street, asking himself when he would wake up, thinking it was a horrifying dream.

Schaefer's recklessness killed the Osheroff's nine-year-old daughter Melody.

Schaefer's behavior was hardly that of a remorseful man. According to reports, he made obscene gestures at photographers during his first court appearance.

Osheroff also said anything other than the verdict returned would have been "an abomination." He called the decision "a no-brainer."

Aaron suffered damage in the impact, as well. His right leg is gone below the knee, and his left was severely mangled in the impact. Extensive surgery was required to repair both the muscles and the skin, necessitating a number of tissue grafts from other parts of his body.

When asked about the verdict, Osheroff stated that he didn't think Schaefer had demonstrated any remorse. He said he was glad of the verdict, and glad to have Schaefer out of his lives and off the streets. Currently, Osheroff's priorities lie on rebuilding his family's lives and making sure his surviving daughter has everything she needs.

Train Reaction Crash

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last Friday, a collision between a South Lake City train and a car started a series of events that ended in a second, related accident, landing three people in the hospital.

The TRAX train was traveling east around 8 p.m. on Friday, and struck a vehicle that had crossed into the train's path.

Amazingly, the car's driver was not killed in the impact, despite turning left across the train's path. The 27-year-old woman and her car were dragged 300 feet before finally stopping. Firefighters had to cut open the car to remove her, but she was conscious when she was taken to the hospital. The accident occurred on the University of Utah Campus.

UTA procedures in the matter are clear. The TRAX operator is to be given a test for drugs and alcohol, and will be on paid leave until the university police complete their investigation. While there were people traveling on the train and the accident was quite serious, nobody was hurt and the delay was minimal.

"Those trains are so big and heavy, people on board would only have felt a bump," said a UTA official.

Shortly after the impact, a UTA truck responding to the accident ran a red light, which caused the second accident. It ultimately lead to a four car pileup on the eastern and southbound lanes in the area.

UTA trucks are equipped with warning flashers, but they are yellow, not blue and white emergency lights.

The trucking accident was caused when the truck was hit by a northbound car, which threw the maintenance vehicle into another car in the left-turn lane. The fourth vehicle rear-ended the turn lane car a moment later.

Five people were injured in this secondary accident, two of whom were taken to nearby hospitals with minor injuries. The other drivers were able to be treated at the scene instead of requiring hospital attention.

UTA has said the driver will be cited for violating the red light and causing the accident.

Woman Leaves Child After Accident

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Chicago native has been charged with child endangerment, having run on foot from her car following an accident. In fleeing, she left behind a 3-year-old boy in the vehicle, according to police.

The resident involved is Chiqutia S. Russel, who lives on North Springfield Avenue. She was given multiple charges, including endangering the life and welfare of a child, driving without a license, failure to have insurance and leaving the scene of a vehicular accident, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak.

Russel returned to the accident scene, which was at the 1800 block of North Karlov Avenue. A witness identified her as the driver of the 2001 Chrysler, and said that she had fled the scene. Police arrested her immediately.

After she had fled the scene of the 9:35 pm accident, the police found the child in the back of the vehicle. According to officials, the child is the son of Russel's boyfriend. Thankfully, there was no indication the boy had been injured, according to police.

Following the filing of charges, Russel was assigned a court date of May 24th. The Illinois Department of Children and Family services has stated it intends to investigate the case. They have also stressed that they did not have prior contact with the family for any child services matters.

There is no word on the condition of the driver in the other vehicle involved in the car accident.

The charges are serious, carrying the potential for extensive fines and jail time. The child endangerment charge alone carries the potential of 10 years of jail time, while the other offenses carry jail times around several months of imprisonment and fines that can total approximately $5,000-$10,000, depending on the discretion of the court.

A call to Russel's residence reached a gentleman who insisted that the incident was a misunderstanding, and that she had not left the child behind.

Defendants Agree to Settle DUI Wrongful Death Case

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Missouri police officer and the bar she drank at have agreed to a settlement of $2.25 million to be paid to the families of four young people killed in a traffic crash last year. Three of the victims were Eastern Illinois University students.

The wrongful death suit was brought by the survivor of the crash and the dead victims' families. The suit held that officer Christine L. Miller drank a large quantity of alcohol while off duty on the night of the accident, specifically at O'Leary's Restaurant and Bar. She then drove her car into oncoming traffic while intoxicated.

Files from the St. Louis County Circuit Court indicate that the families each will receive $331,375 as part of the settlement. $750,000 will go to the plaintiffs' attorneys, with the remaining $180,000 going to survivor Nitesh Adusumilli and his lawyer, as well as court fees. The exact details of Adusumilli's settlement were not released.

The primary accusation against Officer Miller was negligence due to drunk driving and driving on the wrong side of the road. Her BAC was .169 three hours after the crash, which is more than twice the legal limit for the area.

The suit was filed six days after criminal charges were filed against the officer. She has been charged with four counts of first degree involuntary manslaughter, and one count of second-degree assault. The crash happened at 1:45 a.m. March 21, 2009. Miller drove her car eastbound into the westbound lanes, colliding with the victims' Honda.

Those killed in the wreck were Satya Subhakar Chinta, Anusha Anumolu, Anita Lakshmi Veerapaneni, and Priya Muppayarapu. The last three were graduate students at EUI, and all four passengers were originally from India, having come to work and study in the United States.

The sole survivor of the crash suffered extensive injuries, including head trauma. However, he was eventually able to return to work. It is unknown if a date has been set in the criminal trial for the officer.

Police Investigating Bite-and-Run Dog Attack

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Police in Ridgefield, Conn., are continuing their investigation into a dog attack that left a town resident and his puppy injured last week.

According to Police Captain Clifford Scharf, numerous leads have been followed up since German shepherds attacked resident Guy Marchison and his golden retriever puppy, Star. The attack occurred on Tuesday, April 20. Star was only 14 weeks old at the time.

Marchison claims that the dogs rushed Star, and he picked her up to keep her away from the attack. The shepherds persisted in the attack, causing injuries to both Marchison and his puppy as he tried to shield her from their assault. The dogs' apparent owner whistled and they broke off the attack, followed him into his vehicle, whereupon he drove away. They were seen leaving in a Hummer, either gold or orange-colored.

Ridgefield police initially asked the press not to report on the vehicle's description, fearing that letting the information out could disrupt the investigation, but another news outlet leaked the information later.

According to Captain Scharf, “Once we identify someone we will apply for a warrant and that takes time."

Mr. Marchison was taken to Danbury Hospital for bites to his face and hands. He suffered eight puncture wounds, and was placed on medication in case of rabies. The puppy was taken to the emergency animal hospital. She suffered a serious wound to the chest and will require surgery, but seems to be in good spirits on the whole.

The attack is unusual, as many dog bite cases involve animals near their homes, with an owner clearly present and approachable. Captain Scharf has stated that the owner of the dogs is likely to face criminal charges in the matter, although whether these would be relating to negligence in allowing his dogs to attack someone or relate to fleeing from the scene remains unstated.

The captain did confess that he would hate to be the owner of a Hummer matching the description put out, however.

Police Collision Suit To Go Forward

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A woman who claims a Jackson, Miss., police car injured her when it collided with the vehicle she was in won a critical victory in her lawsuit, as a Hinds County judge has agreed to give permission for the lawsuit.

26-year-old Joi Fitzgerald’s complaint against the city of Jackson alleges that Officer Fredrick Suttles ran a red light at the intersection of Country Club and Northside drives on May 19, 2007. Suttles’ car crashed into Cedric Matlock’s car, in which Fitzgerald was a passenger.

Fitzgerald said the accident caused her long-term injuries in her neck, right leg, foot, hand and knee. The procedures to treat these injuries have left her with more than $16,000 in medical bills. In recompense, she is seeking $166,000 in damages as well as an unspecified amount in lost wages.

Jackson city attorneys attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed on several grounds. The first was that Fitzgerald did not completely pursue other avenues to receive damages before resorting to a lawsuit, while the second argument was that Suttles’ actions did not meet the standard for reckless disregard on which the suit is founded. The suit must prove Suttles acted without regard to the safety of someone not engaged in criminal activity according to Mississippi state law.

In ignoring the claims for dismissal, Judge Harrison commented that while Fitzgerald and Suttles had given conflicting reports as to whom had the right of way, both had indicated that Suttles was traveling without his lights on despite responding to a robbery call at the time of the accident.

There is a certain amount of precedent for this sort of case in Jackson. In 2005, a Jackson officer was found to have recklessly disregarded the safety of nonoffenders when he struck and killed Desmonde Harris.

No date has been set in the trial at this time.

Jury Sides With Ford in Defect Case

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On April 19, a jury decided in favor of Ford Motor Co. in a lawsuit filed against the company for alleged defects in its SUVs. The plaintiffs had claimed that these defects in the particular model of SUV directly contributed to the injuries an 11-year-old girl received during a rollover accident near Lancaster, CA. The 2006 accident left the child a quadriplegic.

The jury held deliberation for six hours between Thursday and Monday before announcing its decision. The jury rejected the claims of David and Alicia Vela Cambron. The Cambrons had filed the suit on behalf of their daughter, Priscilla Cambron.

The accident occurred around 5 p.m. on February 23, 2006. Alicia Cambron was traveling east when she swerved in an attempt to avoid a collision that crossed the centerline of the road. She initially swerved to the right, then attempted to get back onto the road. The SUV rolled, crushing the roof and severing Priscilla's spinal cord. It is important to note that Priscilla, as most safety advocates recommend for young children, was properly secured in the back seat of the car.

Defense attorney Bradley W. Peterson described the crash as a tragic accident, but insisted on his client's innocence in the matter. He says he is “very pleased” with the verdict. The Ford defense team maintained that it was the actions and errors made by Priscilla's mother that caused the crash, and that no flaw in the 2002 Explorer SUV had anything to do with the wreck.

Ian Herzog, the attorney who represented the Cambrons, informed the jury that both the accident and attendant injuries could have been averted if Ford's Electronic Stability Control System had been installed on the vehicle. Additionally, the vehicle could have been designed with a wider axle track and lower center of gravity to impart greater stability.

Ford attorneys stressed that Alicia Cambron should have reacted differently, maintaining her presence in the right and slowing down instead of trying to get back onto the road.

Student Accused in Pedestrian Injury

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Philadelphia police have charged a Temple University student in a hit and run impact that injured a pedestrian this past Sunday.

Nicholas Hasselback of Ephrata, Pa., was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving injury. Further charges included aggravated assault, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person. The charges were filed this Wednesday. The assault and endangerment charges are serious enough, and driving away simply compounds the seriousness of the crime.

The charges allege that Hasselback was driving in the 2200 block of Benjamin Franklin Parkway at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday when his car struck fellow Temple University student Tony Foltz, 25. Foltz was hit in the right arm and leg and suffered a skull fracture, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. He was in critical condition Thursday at Hahnemann University Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said.

In Pennsylvania, a hit-and-run case carries a mandatory minimum sentence. Violators can expect to serve at minimum 90 days in prison and pay a $1,000 fine. These are regardless of any other provision of law. Three months is a long time for anyone, and particularly for a student at university. One thousand dollars is a substantial bit of money as well, especially considering it will come before any liability arrangements that may be made considering the victim’s injuries.

If Foltz dies, the minimums involved will, of course, increase. The term of imprisonment will be set at a minimum of one year, and the fine will increase to a minimum of $25,000.

It is important to stress that Hasselback turned himself in. This past Wednesday around 2:30 pm, Hasselback, his parents, and his attorney met with the police and he surrendered himself into custody at police headquarters.


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