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The daughter of William Altice, the firefighter who died after a fire truck collided with an SUV, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the SUV driver and Posey Dillon's wife.
The Roanoke Times | File 2010
Neither Posey Dillon, 59, chief of the Rocky Mount Volunteer Fire Department, nor William Daniel "Danny" Altice, 67, was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
The Roanoke Times | File 2010
Portraits of firefighter William Altice (left) and Chief Posey Dillon are displayed at the Rocky Mount Municipal Building the day after the deadly crash.
The Roanoke Times | File 2010
On July 26, 2010, Posey Dillon, 59, chief of the Rocky Mount Volunteer Fire Department, and William Daniel "Danny" Altice, 67, died after the fire truck Dillon was driving collided at an intersection with an SUV driven by Teri Anne Valentine, then veered out of control and rolled. A Rocky Mount fire truck on its way to a house fire crashed into an SUV, flipped several times and landed on a car, state police and a witness said.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A tangle of lawsuits and countersuits tied to the deaths of two volunteer firefighters in Rocky Mount in July 2010 has been simplified by a settlement reached between two of the parties.
As a result, one legal action remains.
On July 26, 2010, Posey Dillon, 59, chief of the Rocky Mount Volunteer Fire Department, and William Daniel “Danny” Altice, 67, died after the fire truck Dillon was driving collided at an intersection with an SUV driven by Teri Anne Valentine, then veered out of control and rolled. The crash sheared off the fire truck’s cab. Neither man was wearing a seat belt and both were ejected and killed.
Last year, Christie Altice-Weaver, a daughter of Altice and executor of his estate, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both Valentine and Ann Dillon, as administrator of the estate of Posey Dillon, asserting that both Valentine and Posey Dillon had been “grossly negligent” on the day the crash occurred.
That lawsuit, which sought a judgment of $2 million “plus taxable costs with interest from July 26, 2010, to the present,” remains active and is currently scheduled for a three-day jury trial beginning Sept. 23.
“Neither Valentine nor Dillon’s estate has taken responsibility for the collision that claimed Mr. Altice’s life,” said Tony Russell, an attorney representing Altice-Weaver, in an email Tuesday. “As such, a jury in September 2013 will determine the responsibility of Valentine and Dillon’s estate for the collision and determine the amount of money that is needed to fully and fairly compensate the Altice family for Mr. Altice’s untimely death.”
Lawyers representing Valentine and Weaver as defendants in the case could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Two other actions linked to fatal crash have been settled. Namely, Valentine’s personal injury lawsuit against the Dillon estate and the Dillon estate’s wrongful death lawsuit against Valentine have ended in a compromise. Settlement details were unavailable Tuesday.
On the afternoon the crash occurred the fire truck was eastbound on Virginia 40, headed to the report of a house fire in Union Hall with possible entrapment of a person inside.
At the intersection with School Board Road, about 4:30 p.m., the fire truck collided with a 2007 Ford Escape driven by Valentine.
An investigation by Virginia State Police Trooper R.D. Conley determined that Valentine had a green light and Dillon faced a red light. Conley concluded that Valentine had “lawfully entered the intersection” and that Dillon had “failed to proceed through the red light with due regard to safety.”
Conley’s report included interviews with several witnesses who reported the fire truck’s siren and emergency lights were functioning when it entered the intersection.
Altice-Weaver’s lawsuit cited a state law that requires drivers to yield the right of way to emergency vehicles that are providing audible or visual notice of their presence with a siren or air horn and displaying flashing, blinking or alternating emergency lights.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the crash, the community raised money to help pay for a traffic control system that relies on infrared emitters and receivers to provide a green light to emergency vehicles, giving them the right of way.
Posey Dillon had previously campaigned to have the technology installed, but costs had been deemed prohibitive.
In August 2010, experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program traveled to Franklin County to investigate the crash. NIOSH is an institute within the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In February 2011, NIOSH issued a report about the fatal wreck. As “contributing factors,” the report listed: nonuse of seat belts; failure of the motorist to yield the right of way to an approaching emergency vehicle with audible and visual signals in use; failure to ensure that all approaching vehicles had yielded the right of way before advancing through an intersection; use of an older fire apparatus with minimal safety features; and lack of intersection control device on emergency vehicle and traffic light.
The report suggested that “although it is uncertain if either of the men, if restrained by seat belts, would have survived, they would have had a greater chance of survival.”
And the report suggested that fire departments ensure that firefighters “use extreme caution while responding through intersections by coming to a full stop before entering a negative right of way (red light, flashing red light or stop sign) and by accounting for all lanes of traffic before proceeding through the intersection.”
According to the report, vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths.
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