Assembly member, son sue over accident with city bus

Posted: Sunday, January 12, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- Assemblyman Stan Ridgeway has filed a lawsuit in Juneau Superior Court against the local government he represents.

The lawsuit names city-owned Capital Transit and the bus driver whose vehicle collided with a car operated by Ridgeway's son Nov. 27, 2000.

The legal action seeks compensatory and punitive damages and attorney's fees even though the accident was determined to be the fault of Ridgeway's son.

William Ridgeway, then 16, was driving his father's car toward the Mendenhall Valley on Egan Drive when a city bus traveling toward downtown attempted to turn left onto the Glacier Highway access road.

Ridgeway's Mazda Protg struck the bus and the passenger side of the car was demolished, seriously injuring a passenger in the vehicle.

After police measured the Mazda's skid marks, they concluded that the damage to both vehicles indicated a minimum impact speed of 70 mph. Two different measurements indicated the Mazda could have been traveling between nearly 65 mph to just more than 82 mph at impact. The speed limit is 55 mph.

According to court documents, William Ridgeway pleaded no contest March 8 to negligent driving. He was fined $300 with $150 suspended and placed on probation for 18 months.

The Ridgeway lawsuit said the bus driver acted negligently when he turned left and crossed the outbound lanes of Egan Drive.

Stan Ridgeway told KINY-radio they are challenging the accuracy of the police investigation.

The elder Ridgeway came upon the accident scene in a separate vehicle. The suit said he suffered shock, despair, and emotional distress by not knowing the extent of his son's injuries or if his son was alive or dead. Those conditions were enhanced, according to the suit, when Ridgeway went to the hospital and saw the extent of his son's injuries.

The suit claims the younger Ridgeway suffered psychological, emotional and physical injuries. It adds he will incur medical expenses in the future, as well as continued lost wages.

The court filing claims the plaintiffs have sustained more than $100,000 in medical expenses and more than $40,000 in legal expenses. It also specifies $3,500 in damage to the car.

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