UDOT sued over Parleys crash
Two families who lost loved ones when a woman on Interstate 80 crossed the median in Parleys Canyon have sued the state claiming the road was not safe.
The crashes claimed Alexis Paget, 3, and Rayn Ewing, 17 on Jan. 21, 2007.
After those fatalities, officials installed a cable barrier in Parleys Canyon to stop drivers from veering into oncoming traffic.
But separate lawsuits filed June 10 against the State of Utah and Utah Department of Transportation claim the dangerous road was not made safer soon enough.
Suzanne Graser, the driver who crossed the center divider, suffered minor injuries when she hit the two vehicles. There was no barrier in place when the woman crossed the median.
"UDOT had a duty to provide a center median barrier to protect motorists, such as the Paget vehicle, from cross median collisions," a five-page complaint filed on behalf of Timothy and Annette Paget states.
Annette is the mother of Alexis. Annette was driving the car and critically injured in the crash.
A barrier was necessary in the median near Lambs Canyon to "separate eastbound and westbound lanes of I-80 in Parley’s Canyon," states the complaint, which requests a jury trial.
Transportation officials installed a cable barrier near where the deadly crashes occurred after the fatal collisions.
"It was tragic that these things had to happen before we could put that barrier in," UDOT spokesman Adan Carrillo said last year. "We don’t normally wait until there is an accident for us to do something."
A barrier installed sooner could have saved his daughter, Timothy Paget claimed.
A similar lawsuit was filed against UDOT and the state June 10 by Sidney and Cathie Ewing, the parents of Rayn, who also died in the crash.
Historically, many crashes in Parleys Canyon have involved drivers crossing the center divider. But wide medians combine with subtle grade differences between east and westbound lanes to help reduce head-on collisions, officials say.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office was not served with the lawsuits this week.
"There is not much we can say at this point because we haven’t seen the lawsuits," said Paul Murphy, a spokesman for the office.
A UDOT spokesman declined to comment when reached Thursday.
The lawsuits seek damages for medical expenses, wrongful death, loss of earnings and pain and suffering.
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