Mike Wilbur

COLUMBUS, OH FATAL APPARATUS CRASH SETTLEMENT

Columbus will pay $410,000 to the family of a woman who was killed in a crash with a fire truck on the Southeast Side in 2013 as part of a settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit.

The Columbus City Council voted Monday to settle the lawsuit brought by William R. Glenn, whose mother, Elvyra T. Glenn, 86, died a week after a crash between her vehicle and a Columbus Division of Fire engine at the intersection of Brice and Refugee roads on Nov. 12, 2013.

The 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that Columbus had immunity in the lawsuit but that it did not fully extend to Paul Sheridan, the firefighter who was driving the truck.

“In this case, it came down to whether the employee operated Engine 32 in a reckless manner,” said Josh Cox, chief counsel in the Columbus city attorney’s office.

Sheridan was working out of Station 32, 3675 Gender Road, when he was dispatched as a driver to 5400 Sedalia Drive. He swore in an affidavit that he activated an electronic siren before leaving the station but did not activate a mechanical siren during the response.

The lawsuit alleges that the truck entered the Brice and Refugee intersection without using sirens or lights. The fire truck was traveling west on Refugee Road, while Glenn was driving her vehicle south on Brice Road.

In his affidavit filed with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Sheridan said traffic was heavy as he approached the intersection and that he pulled an air horn in short bursts to warn drivers of the engine’s approach. The light at the intersection was red, but Sheridan believed he had clearance to make it through unimpeded.

He did not stop the truck, though, and collided with Glenn’s car at about 35 mph. Glenn died a week later, Nov. 19, 2013, from injuries sustained in the collision.

The division’s rules say vehicles must stop at red lights and only proceed when it can be done safely. Sheridan wrote that he believed at the time that he could cross the intersection safely.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I feel that I did not enter the intersection safely because an accident occurred,” wrote Sheridan, who has since retired. “With the benefit of hindsight, I also feel that if I had come to a complete stop at the intersection, the accident would not have occurred.”

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