Two young men, Derek Jasper and Blake Strebel, died on April 21, 2009, when a Cadillac, driven to two men suspected of a home burglary, ran a red light and smashed into the their Mistubishi Lancer. According to a story in the Deseret News, the boys were returning home from having played basketball in Ogden, Utah, when this fatal car accident happened.
As it turns out, the suspected thieves were being chased by the Ogden City Police Dept and were apparently in the process of trying to evade the police when the car crash happened. The men ran the stoplight at the corner of 28th Street and Washington. Now family members of the two men the police were chasing say that the cause of the Ogden car accident rests with the police, not the two who were evading law enforcement.
The Ogden police has responded to these allegations. “Traffic was very light and the conditions were in keeping with the Ogden Police Department’s pursuit policy,” Assistant Police Chief Randy Watt said Thursday. “The vehicle stayed in the residential area and made numerous changes in direction at the same relative speeds.”
My condolences to the family of these two young men who appeared to have had bright futures ahead of them.
As far as blame goes, it rests squarely with the driver who ran the red light. The drive chose to drive unsafely, and in the pursuit of his own selfish interests of avoiding justice for his alleged actions, ran the red light. The speed of the chase was not excessive and officials say the traffic was relatively light. Unfortunately for the driver, he compounded his criminal troubles by taking two people out of this world. I suspect charges of manslaughter will be brought against the driver by the Ogden city attorney over this needless car accident.
Legally speaking, the families have a wrongful death claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver as well as a claim against Strebel’s insurance company for “under-insured” coverage. A modest provision for funeral expenses is also available under the Strebel policy.
Ron Kramer is a Utah personal injury and accident lawyer practicing throughout the state. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-666-3959 for a free consultation if you are in need of a Utah car accident attorney.