The brother of a Special Olympian killed five years ago when the Lifestyles for the Disabled van in which he was riding collided with a Fire Department ladder truck in Dongan Hills has settled his wrongful death lawsuit for $950,000, court records show.
William Perry III, as administrator of Eric Perry’s estate, had sued Lifestyles for the Disabled, the van driver and the city in state Supreme Court, St. George, in connection with the March 9, 2011, incident.
State Supreme Court Justice Thomas P. Aliotta has approved a settlement in which the insurer for Lifestyles for the Disabled and van driver Peter Roskowinski will pay $600,000 and the city will add $350,000.
In an affidavit, William Perry said the settlement was in the estate’s best interests.
“I find the settlement offered excellent and more than acceptable,” he said. “I believe it is prudent of me to accept the settlement and avoid the uncertainties of trial.”
According to police, the crash occurred at about 12:10 p.m.
A fire truck from Ladder Co. 81 was rushing along Richmond Road toward the Staten Island Expressway, responding to a call of a vehicular fire. A witness told the Advance its lights were flashing and its siren was wailing.
At the intersection of Burgher Avenue, the ladder truck collided with a Lifestyles van, which was carrying developmentally disabled adults, including Eric Perry, 51, and Albert DeFilippo, 61, a fellow Special Olympian.
The van had the green light and was turning left from Burgher onto New Dorp-bound Richmond, said a witness.
The impact killed Perry, who suffered blunt-force trauma to the head, neck and torso as well as multiple fractures, and critically injured DeFilippo and another van passenger, police said. The remaining six van occupants suffered minor injuries, as did six firefighters in the ladder truck, said NYPD and FDNY officials.
DeFilippo endured paralysis and horrific injuries and ultimately succumbed in August 2011.
His estate also filed a wrongful death lawsuit, which later settled, court filings show, with a justice approving an award of more than $4.8 million.
According to state law, an emergency vehicle driver may proceed past a steady or flashing red signal or a stop sign “only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation.” That driver may exceed the maximum speed limits “so long as he does not endanger life or property.”
In a sad twist, the reported vehicle fire to which the ladder truck was responding turned out to be nothing more than an overheated car near the expressway, said FDNY officials.
After the wreck occurred, Richard Salinardi, Lifestyles’ president, told the Advance the incident was “a terrible tragedy … the worst thing ever for us at Lifestyles.”
According to its website, Willowbrook-based Lifestyles for the Disabled strives to provide the intellectually disabled with realistic work settings and experiences within the Staten Island community.
Salinardi declined comment Tuesday on the settlement.
Said a spokesman for the city Law Department, “This was a tragic incident. Settling the case was in the best interest of the city.”
Perry’s lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.