RIMOUSKI, Que. — When Francis Hammond’s truck struck Kimberly Kyle’s car, killing her six-year-old son Brendan, Hammond was doing less than 50 km/h.
The roads, though, were icy and deadly.
Hammond and his company, Rimouski, Que.-based Fidele Tremblay, were forced to pay $2.5 million in damages as a result of the 2007 incident, which took place on I-93 near the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border.
Now, it looks like the trucking company has taken one step closer to recovering its losses from the State of New Hampshire, which, the company charges, was negligent by not plowing the road well enough.
What’s more, the trucking company lawyers have successfully persuaded a judge to open the police statements made at the time of the crash. This not only greatly improved their chance of winning; it could set a legal precedent and have major implications for snow-clearing agencies across the U.S. — including one that requires municipalities to be more vigilant in keeping roadways drivable in severe weather conditions.
Hammond’s lawyers argued the records could bolster their case that Interstate 93 was a death trap because of the state road crews’ neglect.
Among the police statements, according to local media, that emerged was this one from one of the attending officers: "I remember when I got out of the car I almost fell down because it was that slippery. You couldn’t even stand. You had to almost skate your feet across the pavement to avoid falling.”
The carrier’s lawyer Anthony Campo described the ice-covered I-93 as "a snake pit waiting to catch our driver — a very nice guy who was doing everything appropriate."
The lawsuit noted there were seven separate requests from police to road crews in the hours leading up to the accident for salt or sand treatment of the icy highway.
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