National Guard blamed for Humvee fatality

Accidents caused by fatigued or drowsy driving are not limited to civilians. Two multi-million-dollar lawsuits for wrongful death were recently filed against the Ohio National Guard for the deaths of a 34-year-old man and his six-year old son after one of its Humvees crashed into his vehicle in Sept. 2016. The fatal accident was allegedly caused by a sleep-deprived and inexperienced National Guardsman.

According to the lawsuit, the Guardsman arrived at the Newton Falls Armory on Sept. 9 at 8:00 am. Lights out for the Guardsmen was scheduled for midnight. The Guardsman and other soldiers woke up at 3:00 a.m. on Sept. 10. They left Newton Falls in a four-vehicle convoy for Camp Perry near Port Clinton 1.5 hours later. The Guardsman drove one of the Humvees.

The soldiers trained there for eight hours and were supposed to stay there overnight. However, the convoy headed east in a rainstorm on Sept. 10.

At approximately 6:00 p.m., according to the suit, a school bus pulled in front of the Humvee which then swerved and side-swiped a car. The Humvee then crashed into the victim's car. He and his son were killed in the crash.

The Guardsman was awake for at least 15 hours before the collision, according to the lawsuit. It was also alleged that Army investigators found empty energy cans inside the Humvee and the Guardsman had ample time to slow down and avoid hitting the bus.

The 22-year-old Guardsman pled guilty to the misdemeanor offenses of vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter. In Feb. he was sentenced to one year in jail, but that term was suspended except for 60 days.

The estate of the 34-year-old victim filed a lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland earlier this month seeking damages over $19.5 million because of the leadership and planning failures by the National Guard. The child's mother filed a lawsuit on behalf of her son's estate on March 27 for $6 million.

Plaintiffs in both lawsuits said that they filed claims with the Army but did not receive a response within a six-month period. The driver of the car which was sideswiped by the Humvee is anticipated to file a lawsuit.

Families who lose a love one in a fatal car crash caused by another person's negligence should seek legal assistance. An attorney can pursue their rights to damages and compensation.

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