Asleep at the Wheel

The family of Sandra K. Johnson, age 41, who died in a car accident on May 25, 2007, has filed a wrongful death action against the WA Botting Company of Woodinville, Washington. The law suit was filed in King County Superior Court by Seattle, Washington personal injury attorney Christopher Michael Davis (case# 07-2-26904-5KNT) on behalf of Ms. Johnson’s estate and her four children. Ms. Johnson’s mother, Beverly Hein, 65, has also joined the lawsuit.

A W.A. Botting employee, John M. Starr, was driving a company pick up truck on Auburn Way South. Starr drove his vehicle off the roadway and crashed into Johnson’s vehicle at a high rate of speed. Police reported that Johnson’s car was broadsided by the W.A. Botting pickup as she waited to turn left out of the driveway of an apartment complex at 5725 Auburn Way South in Auburn. The lawsuit alleges that Ms. Johnson was stopped in her car and had no opportunity to avoid the collision. Johnson, a mother of four, died at the scene.

The Auburn Police Department has investigated the accident. Starr reportedly told police that he had just pulled a double-shift and work, was on his way home, and fell asleep at the wheel while driving. Starr was not hurt in the accident and submitted to a voluntary blood test, police said. The investigation has been turned over to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review of possible criminal charges.

Johnson was a loving mother who worked tirelessly as a caregiver for Catholic Community Services in Tacoma, Washington. She is survived by her children, Dustin (age 5), Zachary (age 6), Shyla (age 14) and Crystal Peterson (age 20).

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) annual Sleep in America survey, more than one half of American drivers (over 100 million people) admit to driving while sleepy, and many say they have actually fallen asleep at the wheel within the past year.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 100,000 drowsy-driving crashes are reported to police each year, killing more than 1,500 Americans and injuring another 71,000. As startling as these figures may seem, most experts believe that federal statistics significantly under-report the problem of driver fatigue.

“The whole family has been devastated by the loss. These poor children are distraught as you can imagine. They miss their mother terribly and don’t understand why she has been taken away from them,” said Mr. Davis. “What is also upsetting is that the children may have to be split up to live with different caretakers,” says Davis.

The lawsuit claims unspecified damages for future lost income and services, as well as damages on behalf of the children for the loss of their mother. Any funds recovered on behalf of the children will be placed in trust and administered through a court-appointed guardian.

Mischelle (Schelly) Weedman-Davis is a freelance writer and the client relations manager for the Davis Law Group, a Seattle personal injury and wrongful death law firm. To learn more about Davis Law Group visit http://www.InjuryTrialLawyer.com or http://www.washingtonaccidentbook.com.

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