February 16, 2012

Two Kentucky Car Accident Fatalities caused by Drunk Drivers

1083566_the_last_drop_.jpgOn Sunday, February 5, 2012, Robert Kempf was driving on I-71 near the Watterson Expressway in Louisville, Kentucky when a fatal accident occurred. Based on a preliminary investigation, this tragic car accident could have been avoided.

Robert Kempf and his friend had been watching the Super Bowl that Sunday, visiting with friends, drinking some alcohol. Later that night, Mr. Kempf got in his 1995 white Corvette with his friend. Once on I-71, he started speeding and lost control of the vehicle. Investigators are unsure if he ran off the road and rolled the car or if the car rolled over until it left the road. Either way, his 49-year-old passenger was killed when the car rolled onto its roof. How Mr. Kempf was able to walk away with minor injuries is a mystery.

What is not a mystery are the factors involved in this crash. First, Mr. Kempf was driving over the posted speed limit, which makes it more difficult to control a vehicle. Second, Mr. Kempf had been drinking prior to driving the vehicle. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol seriously hinders a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle. Mr. Kempf certainly should have been aware of this, especially since he has been arrested for DUI three other times in Louisville. He has been charged again with DUI in this case too. However, this time is a little different because he has also been charged with murder.

A similar case is unfolding now, also in Louisville. John Koerner of Clarksville, Indiana was driving on Grinstead Drive with two passengers in his car on February 10th when he lost control of the vehicle and hit a tree. One of his passengers was ejected from the vehicle during the accident. According to witnesses, Mr. Koerner and Kristy Harper, the other passenger, fled the scene. They were both found shortly after they ran. The injured passenger was taken to the hospital and the driver was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence, assault and wanton endangerment. Ms. Harper was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and public intoxication.

Unfortunately, the injured passenger succumbed to a brain injury on February 15th, raising the possibility that Mr. Koerner could now be charged with murder.

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February 7, 2012

Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Ends in $1.5 Million in Indiana, Another Begins in Kentucky

A medical malpractice suit has ended in the victim's favor in New Albany, Indiana, and a new case has been filed in Taylor County, Kentucky. The first case altered a young woman's life forever, and the second case took the life of a woman completely.

A 21-year-old woman went to Floyd Memorial Hospital because of abdominal pain on June 5, 2003. She was told by Dr. William Garner that she required surgery the next day. Dr. Garner changed his mind about the surgery the next day, then left for the weekend. By June 8th, the patient's condition had dramatically worsened and she had emergency surgery to remove her bowel. She filed a medical malpractice lawsuit contending that if the doctor had continued to have her monitored in his absence, her need to have surgery would have been discovered sooner and more of her bowel could have been saved.

As a result of the delayed surgery, the suit alleges that the victim's life has been negatively affected. She finds it impossible to work. Her body processes food in 30 minutes, rather than the normal six to eight hours, so she is unable to obtain proper nutrition from the things she eats. She also suffers from bloating.

In January, 2012, the jury agreed with the victim and awarded her $1.5 million in damages.
The amount was reduced by the courts to $1.25 million due to a state limit on medical malpractice awards. Some may think a jury of the victim's peers may have not been fair because they are not in the medical profession. But Indiana requires all medical malpractice claims to be reviewed by a panel of three impartial doctors before they can go to trial, and all three agreed with the victim and allowed the case to go to trial.

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January 30, 2012

Kentucky Couple Files Product Liability Suit against Kraft Foods

716277_kd.jpgOn September 21, 2011, Leamon Perkins of Pine Knot, Kentucky in McCreary County ate a bowl of microwavable Velveeta Shells and Cheese. He became very ill and ended up in surgery on September 29, 2011. According to his doctors, Mr. Perkins' small bowel was perforated with a small piece of metal that showed up on a CT scan and he had contracted peritonitis. The surgeon removed the portion of his small bowel that had been damaged by the sliver of metal and the metal piece itself.

The next day, Kraft Foods, the manufacturer of the macaroni and cheese recalled 137,000 cases of the product "as a precaution due to the possible presence of small, thin wire bristle pieces," according to the FDA recall press release. The recall was voluntary, as opposed to FDA-mandated, and Kraft stated it had not received any complaints or heard of anyone being injured.

Mr. Perkins filed a product liability lawsuit this month against Kraft. Why he waited so long to file the lawsuit is unknown. It is possible that he was not aware of the product recall until recently, so he did not put the two together. Kentucky law allows individuals to file product liability claims up to one year after the injury occurred, so he was well within the filing period.

In the lawsuit, Mr. Perkins is seeking $6 million in damages. The amount includes both compensatory and punitive damages. His wife has requested $500,000 in damages for loss of consortium. Compensatory damages often include lost wages and medical bills, as well as other less tangible items, such as physical and emotional distress. Loss of consortium is most often claimed by a spouse for lost or interrupted marital relations related to the accident. It can also be claimed by a parent or child of a victim for a reduction or termination of affection because of the victim's injuries. Punitive damages are not related to a particular loss, but instead serve to punish the defendant for the incident that occurred. Many plaintiffs claim punitive damages in an attempt to deter the defendant from allowing a similar incident to occur in the future.

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January 24, 2012

Kentucky Nursing Home being investigated by Attorney General's Office

Placing a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility can be a difficult decision. As people get older, they are unable to care for themselves, and leaving them in a private home or apartment without supervision can be dangerous. Relocating them to a place where they can receive the assistance and supervision they need can be the right choice. Unfortunately, nursing home residents can encounter dangerous or inappropriate situations as well in the form of abuse or neglect.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office is in place to help protect nursing home residents. If the office determines a facility has acted inappropriately, it issues a citation. Citations range in severity, with a Type A citation being the most serious. This citation level is given when a state regulation has been violated and a resident's life or safety has been put in jeopardy. All Type A citations are reported to the Kentucky Attorney General's office, which reviews the citations and determines whether or not the case should be assigned to a prosecutor.

The Kentucky Attorney General's office is currently reviewing a Type A citation that it received regarding Charleston Health Care Center in Danville, Kentucky. The citation is related to two incidents that occurred in the summer of 2011. On July 20th, a resident alleges that he or she was hit on the head, two times on each side, then covered with a pillow. The aide was suspended for two days while the allegation was investigated, but the nursing home and the family of the resident decided the accusation was probably false because of the mental status of the resident. A medical assistant did notice a small bruise on the resident's face that was not there previously, which may lend some credibility to the accusation.

Later that same summer, on August 10th, the same nurse's aide was found curled up in bed next to a patient by a staff member. When the staff member confronted him, he kissed the patient on the cheek and said "no one cared what he did." Two days after this incident, the administration became aware of it and the aide was fired.

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January 18, 2012

Louisville, Kentucky Settles More Personal Injury Lawsuits from Zoo Train Derailment

1350732_train_tracks_1.jpgOn June 1, 2009, a small passenger train that has run for many years around the perimeter of the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky derailed, spilling all of its passengers out of the cars. While there were no fatalities, 22 people, including 17 children, were sent to hospitals with injuries. Multiple personal injury lawsuits have been filed as a result of this accident.

Shortly after the accident, lawsuits were filed by multiple plaintiffs against different defendants, including Chance Rides Manufacturing, Mary Coffey, and the Louisville Zoo. The first defendant, Chance Rides Manufacturing, is the company that manufactured and sold the train to the zoo. Claims against the company are likely product liability claims, which state that a company knowingly has manufactured and distributed a dangerous or faulty product that has caused property damage or personal injury. Mary Coffey was operating the train when it derailed. She has been charged with negligence in some of the cases based on reports that the train was going too fast and that she was not experienced enough to be running the train when the accident occurred. The lawsuits against the Louisville Zoo could contain a variety of charges including negligence for allowing Ms. Coffey to operate the train without proper training and not properly maintaining the train or the tracks. A couple of the lawsuits also included restraining orders in an attempt to prohibit the zoo from moving the train before it could be examined by experts hired by the plaintiffs.

Over $500,000 has been paid by the city of Louisville to settle 23 claims, including $150,000 this month. This amount does not include legal fees, which are upwards of $175,000 already. Some of the largest claims are still to come, including one filed by a family that had four individuals injured. The father suffered serious injuries to his legs and has already incurred over $350,000 in medical expenses. Damages in this type of case typically will not only include medical expenses, but also lost wages, loss of future earnings, and compensation for emotional distress for both the victim and his family. Considering the extent of injuries and number of people involved, the award in this case may end up being in the millions. This claim is one of six remaining claims that will most likely be mediated and settled without a trial.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture investigated the accident. The department's final report noted excessive speed, an inexperienced driver, and the poor condition of the train as the most likely causes of the accident. The Louisville Zoo has purchased two new trains since the accident and hopes to have them running in the spring or summer of 2012.

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January 10, 2012

Woman Sues Drug Companies over Drug Given to Her Mother before Birth

72201_prescription_med.jpgBetween 1940 and the early 1970s, millions of expectant mothers were given the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES) to help prevent miscarriages and premature births. A study in 1971 found a potential link between the drug and an increased risk for vaginal cancer in young women whose mothers took DES. Doctors were told to stop prescribing it. Many product liability lawsuits have been filed over the years by women who allegedly have vaginal cancer, cervical cancer, or infertility issues as a result of their mothers being given DES during pregnancy.

In a recent lawsuit, a Boston woman is claiming something different. Arline MacCormack developed breast cancer when she was 44. While many women have breast cancer at that age or even younger, her type of cancer is typically not seen in women younger than 60.

After discovering research that linked DES to a significant increase in breast-cancer risks for women, Ms. MacCormack filed her lawsuit against several drug companies that manufactured and sold the drug to women like her mother in the 1960s. Her suit alleges that the drug companies were not only aware that DES did not prevent a woman from having a miscarriage, but also that there were safety issues with the drug that the companies kept from physicians.

The drug companies have filed pre-trial motions stating there is no scientific evidence regarding this supposed link between DES and breast cancer, and the presiding judge has heard testimony from experts for the companies and Ms. MacCormack. If the judge grants the companies' motion, the case will not go to trial. If their motion is denied, the case will go to trial.

Drug liability cases can become very complex. In the case above, the plaintiff, Ms. MacCormack is seeking restitution for a drug that was not even given to her directly, but to her mother 50 years ago. While this can make a case more challenging, this situation is not that uncommon. Side effects of drugs given to women during pregnancy can take years to show up in their offspring. Other types of product liability cases, such as those involving asbestos, can also have a significant delay between the time of the exposure and the appearance of symptoms. Trying to prove which company manufactured and sold the drug that a particular individual took many years ago would be difficult, so oftentimes multiple companies are included in the suit and may share the liability and be required to pay damages.

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January 3, 2012

Kentucky Ranked as One of Worst States for Driving, but Car Accident Fatalities Decline

In late 2011, CarInsuranceCompare.com collected information from several sources and compiled a list of the best and worst states in which to drive. Factors included the number of accident deaths, drunk drivers and traffic tickets, and how many drivers were cited for failing to obey traffic signals. Kentucky ranked as the seventh worst state for driving. According to the report, this is not surprising since states in the south seemed to fair worse in the ranking than those in the north. It does to say to keep in mind that many of the northern states are smaller than their southern counterparts, which means people are driving fewer miles to reach their destinations. Also, many of the northern states have large metropolitan areas, such as New York City and Boston, where many people do not own cars, relying on public transportation instead.

While drivers may dispute whether or not their state is one of the worst to drive in, it does seem to have an effect on insurance rates. Louisiana, which was ranked as the worst state for driving, had the highest insurance rates according to several different sources. One source ranked Kentucky as being the 19th most expensive insurance, which isn't the worst, but certainly isn't the best news for Kentucky drivers. Other factors are obviously involved in insurance rates, such as the values of the cars being insured in the state and what kind of coverage a state requires their drivers to carry.

High scores for both drunk driving and driving carelessly landed Kentucky in the number seven slot on the list. While the former may seem to be a more serious offense than the latter, careless driving can be just as deadly. Numerous Kentuckians have lost their lives in the last year due to careless drivers, including the 11 people killed in a van that was hit by a trucker distracted by his cell phone.

Kentucky also ranks seventh in car accident fatalities. Fortunately, this number dropped again in 2011. As of December 21, 701 people had died in car accidents in 2011. This is a significant decrease from 750 in 2010 and a large improvement over 845 deaths in 2007. Kentucky State Police attribute this decrease not only to their efforts in educating drivers and enforcing the laws, but also to drivers paying more attention to driving and being less distracted behind the wheel. Police spokesman David Jude said "distracted driving is really on people's minds and it's starting to make a difference."

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December 21, 2011

Fatal Indiana and Kentucky Bridge Car Accident Caused by Seizure

A Louisville, Kentucky man was killed in a car accident on the Clark Memorial Bridge between Indiana and Kentucky on December 2, 2011. He was hit head-on by another vehicle headed in the opposite direction. The driver of the pickup truck that caused the accident was not intoxicated, did not fall asleep behind the wheel, and was not distracted by a cell phone or car radio. According to an eye witness, the driver of the pickup truck appeared to be having a seizure when the accident occurred. The passenger in the truck attempted to keep it out of incoming traffic but was unable to do so. Who is at fault when an accident occurs as a result of a medical condition? Can the passenger be held liable for the accident? Both of these questions arise in this accident.

A few days after the accident, the eyewitness account that the driver had a seizure was confirmed. The Courier-Journal reported that he was on medication for epilepsy, a condition that causes a person to have seizures. While the thought of someone who might have a seizure driving a vehicle may be frightening, it is not illegal. Kentucky law states an individual who is certified by a doctor to have been seizure-free for 90 days can apply for a driver's license. The Kentucky Medical Review Board will review the application and most likely interview the applicant before deciding whether the individual can drive. If the individual is given a license, he must continue to be monitored by his physician and report any seizures that occur. There are several ways that the medical review board can become aware of a person's potential inability to drive, as shown in this excerpt from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet:

  • If the driver has indicated that he has "blacked out", lost consciousness or suffered a seizure prior to a reportable motor vehicle accident;

  • If the driver has been reported by a physician as being incapable of driving safely due to a physical or mental condition, or due to medication prescribed for an extended period of time;

  • If the driver has been reported by a law enforcement officer after being observed driving or behaving in an erratic or dangerous manner which indicates the possibility of a physical or mental impairment;

  • If the driver's official record kept by the Transportation Cabinet indicates a possibility of a physical or mental impairment;

  • If the driver has reported that he suffered an epileptic seizure or any type of syncopal episode;

  • If the driver has been reported by a commonwealth attorney, county attorney, county clerk, circuit clerk, sheriff or judge as being incapable of driving due to a physical or mental impairment.

  • If the driver has been named in an affidavit by at least two citizens as being incapable of properly operating a motor vehicle due to a physical or mental impairment.

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December 12, 2011

Ice Causing Accidents Already on Kentucky Roadways

929304_icy_conditions_1.jpgOn the last day of November, a Hopkinsville, Kentucky car accident took the life of a woman who was riding in a pickup truck driven by her husband. According to an eye witness, the truck was not speeding, but it appeared to hit a patch of black ice on a bridge. The truck slid into a guard rail on the other side of KY 1682 bypass, went over the rail and down an embankment. The passenger side of the truck ran into a tree at the bottom of the embankment, causing the death of the passenger and multiple injuries to the driver.

In Louisville, Kentucky, multiple accidents appear to have been caused by ice on the interstates during the December 8th morning rush hour. Just on the stretch of I-64 between 9th and 22nd Streets, police responded to 18 accidents between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Fortunately only three involved injuries that were not life-threatening. Three accidents also occurred on I-71, and 265 was the scene of a multi-vehicle accident. The interstates had not been treated with brine because there was no precipitation in the forecast. National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Callahan attributed the icy conditions to moisture from the heavy rains the area experienced recently still on the roadways.

Icy roads are a fact of life in Kentucky this time of year, and extra precautions should be taken when driving on them. The Weather Channel offers the following tips for driving on ice:

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

Continue reading "Ice Causing Accidents Already on Kentucky Roadways" »

December 5, 2011

Tis the Season for Kentucky Car Accidents Involving Deer

A tragic accident that began with a minivan hitting a deer on the Indiana tollway early last month ended up taking the lives of seven people and injuring three more. The minivan struck the deer, slowed down or stopped, and was hit by a semi. While the collision with the deer did not actually cause the fatalities and injuries, it triggered the rest of the event.

October, November, and December are the worst months of the year for deer accidents because the deer are breeding. Kentucky State Police state that 47 percent of all car accidents involving deer occur in these three months. The peak times of day are between 5:00 and 8:00, both in the morning and evening. A 21-year-old was driving his Chevy pickup in Christian County in Kentucky in November of this year when a deer jumped through the windshield, killing him and injuring his 14-year-old brother. The officers that responded to the accident said it occurred around 6:00 p.m.

Generally more deer are found near wooded areas, but they can appear anywhere, even in the suburbs and industrial areas. Western Kentucky counties that normally have the highest number of deer collisions include Hopkins, Henderson, Daviess and Muhlenberg. While deer populations are higher in more rural areas, which some may think would increase the number of accidents, the number of vehicles traveling in these areas are fewer, so there are not as many cars for the deer to hit. More heavily-traveled roads may be in areas with smaller numbers of deer, but the increased number of vehicles causes the collision rate to increase.

Deer accidents are frequently unavoidable, but some precautions can be taken. Pay attention to deer crossing signs. Studies have shown that posting these signs has actually decreased the number of deer-vehicle accidents. Do not become distracted by cell phones, food, radios, or other items in the vehicle; focus all your attention on the road. Use high-beam headlights when traveling in the dark. If you see one deer cross the road, slow down and allow any other deer traveling with it to cross before you proceed. Deer are usually not alone. Always wear your seatbelt. According to Kentucky State Police, most people injured or killed in collisions with deer were not properly restrained. If you hit a deer and it remains in the road, do not approach it or attempt to help it. A scared, injured deer could injure you in its attempt to get up and get away from the vehicle.

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November 28, 2011

Are Kentucky Hit-and-Run Accident Penalties Tough Enough?

Up until 2008, leaving the scene of a car or truck accident was a misdemeanor and could result in a fine between $20.00 and $2000.00 and a jail term not longer than one year. In 2006, a 14-year-old boy was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Owensboro, Kentucky. The driver was found and was sentenced to only seven months in jail.

In response to the boy's death, legislators introduced a new law, called "Eric's Law" in honor of the Owensboro victim, which makes leaving the scene of an accident with injuries or death a class D felony. The penalty for this class of felony is one to five years in jail and a fine up to $10,000, which can be reduced by $10 for every hour of community service performed. The law was enacted in 2008.

Numerous hit-and-run accidents have occurred in Kentucky since the law was put in place, including the 2008 accident that killed two young girls when the driver was trying to elude police during a traffic stop. That driver was caught and was eventually found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. One might wonder if the tougher hit-and-run penalties make a difference in deadly accidents that end in murder charges. But in the case of an involuntary manslaughter charge, or an accident that causes serious injury but not death, it can increase the defendant's jail time and fine significantly, maybe even enough to make the individual think twice about leaving the scene of an accident.

There are several reasons why someone might leave the scene of an accident. In the case of the two young girls that were killed near the University of Louisville, the driver was fleeing from police when the accident occurred. Some drivers may not want to see the damages or injuries they have caused. Others may be afraid of the legal consequences, so they flee in the hopes they do not get caught later. One reason may be how current penalties for leaving the scene of an accident compare to the penalties for drunk driving. Currently the penalty for killing someone while driving intoxicated is five to 10 years in jail. This penalty is much stiffer than the one to five years given for leaving the scene of the accident. This disparity may cause some individuals who have been drinking to flee the scene initially and turn themselves in later when they are sober. Prosecutor Ray Larson thinks the hit-and-run laws need to be even tougher to discourage people from leaving a car accident. A person staying at the scene and getting help versus leaving the scene could mean the difference between life and death for the injured person.

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November 21, 2011

Kentucky Company Found Negligent in Truck Accident

Kentucky trucking company Dunaway Timber Company has been ordered to pay $7 million in damages to the family of a Missouri man who was killed by one of their truck drivers in Yellville Arkansas. On September 3, 2008, Morgan Quisenberry was driving a tractor-trailer when it crossed the center line and hit two passenger vehicles before colliding with the cab of the victim's tractor-trailer. The victim was able to climb out of the cab, but became trapped under the burning vehicle. He died before arriving at the hospital, leaving a wife and two children.

This was not the first truck accident Mr. Quisenberry had caused. Before being hired by Dunaway, he had been in an accident while hauling hazardous materials. He had also lost his license twice for driving under the influence. While Dunaway Timber wasn't aware of these infractions because Mr. Quisenberry lied on his application, the information could have been obtained through a background search that would have taken little time and cost the company about $15.00.

While Mr. Quisenberry was not actually intoxicated at the time of the accident, he was fatigued, which can have the same effect on a person's driving ability as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He had been driving three hours longer than allowed. Laws forbid truck drivers to drive more than 11 out of 14 straight hours before taking a 10-hour break. Mr. Quisenberry knew that he had exceeded the number of hours allowed and falsified the information in his log book.

Taking all of this information into consideration, the jury determined that the driver was 25 percent responsible for the accident and the company was 75 percent responsible. How can the company be more responsible than the person actually operating the vehicle? The company hired Quisenberry without doing a background check on his driving record and sent him out only 19 days after he was hired, allegedly without adequate training. The route the company assigned to him could not be completed in less than 13 hours, well over the 11-hour driving limit, forcing him to drive while fatigued. Supervision and oversight by the company were lacking. All of these factors caused the jury to find Dunaway Timber guilty of negligent hiring and negligent supervision. The driver's smaller percentage of fault was most likely attributed to his allowing the trailer of his truck to cross over the center of the road while he was driving around a curve and falsifying the number of hours he had driven in one shift in his log book.

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November 14, 2011

Drunk Driving in Kentucky and Across the Nation Destroys Lives

The most recent Kentucky car accident involving a drunk driver to receive a lot of press was the November 11th accident that involved two University of Kentucky basketball players. Stacey Poole Jr. and Terrence Jones were riding in an SUV early Friday morning when it was struck by Scott Roseberry, a 22-year-old from Versailles, Kentucky. Mr. Roseberry stated he drank four or five beers before driving and hitting the SUV on East High Street in Lexington. Fortunately no one was seriously injured. Mr. Roseberry has been charged with DUI.

What remains to be seen in this accident is how the DUI will affect Mr. Roseberry's future. First offenders of drunk driving in Kentucky face up to 30 days in jail, fines between $200 and $500, license suspension up to 120 days, and possible mandatory enrollment in an alcohol treatment program or community service. Because Mr. Roseberry swerved into oncoming traffic and caused an accident, he could be charged with aggravated DUI, which carries stiffer penalties. Hopefully this incident will convince this young man to not drink and drive again, so he does not suffer the fate of Ivanna Villanueva, a 19-year-old college student in Miami. Ms. Villanueva was driving her car on October 2, 2001 after a night of partying at three different clubs when she rear-ended another vehicle, killing the 68-year-old driver. Her blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit and she was going 80 mph in a 40 mph zone. The teen has been charged with DUI manslaughter and may spend up to fifteen years in prison. The victim's family has also filed a wrongful death suit seeking damages. While she is currently out of prison and able to attend classes, her life has been forever changed by this tragic accident caused by her bad judgment.

On January 15, 2010, in Louisville, Kentucky, Amy Tomes drove her car the wrong way on I-65, causing a six-vehicle accident. She was driving without a valid license or insurance, and her blood-alcohol level was 0.32, four times the legal limit. One of the people involved in the crash had bruised kidneys and bleeding on the brain and had to be hospitalized. Ms. Tomes suffered numerous injuries as well. She initially pled not guilty to driving under the influence, reckless driving, wanton endangerment and assault, among other charges, but took full responsibility for the accident at the sentencing hearing, stating she couldn't remember the accident, but had seen it on TV. On November 10, 2011, the judge sentenced her to five years in prison, citing the seriousness of the accident and noting how miraculous it was that no one was killed.

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November 10, 2011

Kentucky School Bus Accident Injures Nineteen

911468_school_bus_with_child.jpgOn November 3, 2011, two school buses full of students and adults from Louisville Collegiate School in Kentucky were headed to Mammoth Cave on a field trip when one of the buses left the road and rolled over near Glasgow, Kentucky. Of the passengers aboard, 16 children and 3 adults were admitted to a hospital in Glasgow. Their injuries ranged from broken bones and cuts and bruises to a potential back and head injury. Lawrence Austin, the bus driver, stated that the trailer of a truck hit the side of the bus, causing the bus to leave the roadway and roll down the embankment. The driver of the truck did not stop and investigators initially saw no signs of collision on the bus.

Kentucky State Police completed their investigation of the bus accident and released their findings earlier this week. They did discover some white paint on the on the left side of the front fender of the bus, which confirms the bus driver's account of being hit by a white semi. The damage was so minimal the truck driver may not have even been aware that he struck the bus, so he did not stop. The search for the truck driver was called off just hours after the accident because there was no evidence of a collision found initially and the description of the truck was very limited. Kentucky State Police spokesman Jonathan Biven said searching for the truck would have been like "looking for a needle in a stack of needles."

What caused the truck trailer to veer into the other lane and hit the school bus will probably never be determined. Investigators believe the weather may have been involved because it was raining. Other factors such as the condition of the truck, the weight of the load in the trailer, and the truck driver's driving record and attention to the road will never be known since the driver did not stop and the search for the truck was called off before it was found. Charges are not expected to be brought against Mr. Austin, the driver of the bus. He has no known driving issues and the bus was recently inspected over the summer and had no mechanical issues.

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November 2, 2011

Fatal Kentucky Car Crash Lands Man in Jail for Five Years

On August 23, 2009, Bryan Lee decided to test-drive a new car. He went to Commonwealth Dodge on Preston Highway in Louisville, Kentucky with his brother and asked to test-drive a new Dodge Challenger. The two brothers left the dealership in the car with salesman Sayed Ghafoori. While driving on Fern Valley Road, Mr. Lee dramatically increased the speed of the vehicle and crashed into a Mercury Sable, killing both occupants.

During the trial, Mr. Lee showed little or no remorse until the sentencing, blaming everyone else for what happened, and he stated he was only going 60 mph, which is still above the posted 45 mph limit on Fern Valley Road. According to the vehicle's black box, which records data on the vehicle while it is being driven, the car had been going 102 mph just before the accident.

Almost exactly two years after the crash, a jury found Mr. Lee guilty of second degree manslaughter in the fatal car accident and recommended a five-year sentence for each death to run concurrently, with a possibility of parole in one year, after 20 percent of his sentence is served. On October 21, 2011, Judge Barry Willett confirmed the five-year sentence, denying the defendant's request for probation.

Both sides had differing stories regarding Sayed Ghafoori, the salesman in the car, during the test drive. Mr. Lee testified that Mr. Ghafoori had encouraged him to go faster, telling him to "hit it." In a statement released to the press, Commonwealth Dodge said "Mr. Lee was in no way encouraged to break the law by our salesman, whose life was also in jeopardy during these events, and who incurred injuries in this needless accident." Investigations into Mr. Ghafoori's background have found that he was charged with speeding six times, at one point going 34 mph over the speed limit. These findings do not make Mr. Lee any less guilty since he should have used his own common sense even if he was encouraged to speed by the salesman. However, a case could be made that the salesman is partially responsible for the accident.

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