Vicki C. and Paul N. vs APAC
Vicki C. and Paul N. vs. APAC Missouri, Inc., Missouri Department of Transportation and Golden Valley Transportation
Vicki and Paul were married as teenagers. They had 2 children together, Savannah and her older sister, Kimber. Savannah was just 16 years old when she was tragically killed in a terrible crash with a semi-tractor trailer rig in a dangerous construction zone in Harrisonville, Missouri on May 16, 2013.
Savannah – Savvy to her friends and family – had turned 16 and started driving just two weeks before that tragic day. She was just finishing her freshman year. Prom had just happened only weeks before. The May flowers were blooming and it was getting warm with Memorial Day nearly here. And Savvy was sent out that day to buy some last minute items for supper that night. She never returned home.
In her just delivered Chrysler PT Cruiser, Savvy came to a stop sign at an intersection just a few hundred yards from her house and stopped. It was a residential street that intersected with a 4-lane divided highway where traffic moved at 70 miles per hour on normal days. But this day was far from normal. Heavy road construction equipment had just begun the 11-mile resurfacing of the divided highway right at the intersection of Savvy’s neighborhood and the construction crews were installing a brand new turn lane at the busy intersection. The inside lane of the highway going south was closed, leaving only one lane open for all southbound traffic. Graders, rollers, milling equipment, dump trucks, bulldozers, skid steers and other heavy equipment were spread throughout the highway and the dirt crew, milling crew and the asphalt crew were working at the intersection where Savannah had come to the stop sign. No flaggers were there to help Savvy navigate the intersection. And although the construction plans indicated the residential street in front of Savvy’s house could be closed during construction, it wasn’t. She tried to cross the intersection alone, without anyone from the construction crew helping her. Savvy was crushed by an 18-wheeler speeding through the construction zone. The 3,000-pound PT Cruiser was no match for the fully loaded, 80,000-pound tractor trailer rig.
ROAD CONSTRUCTION RULES WERE NOT OBSERVED
Construction on the months-long project had begun only two days before Savannah’s tragic crash and resulting death. Although the specifications for the construction project required the 70-mph speed limit to be reduced to 60-mph, the state of Missouri’s department of transportation and the construction company made the last-minute decision not to post the reduced 60-mph speed limit signs just before the intersection. Consequently, no speed limit signs were present in the mile and one-half stretch of highway immediately before the intersection. Construction equipment was parked inside the closed lanes of the highway right at the intersection. And while 15-20 certified flaggers were listed as qualified for the construction project, not a single flagger was present that day at the intersection to help motorists like Savannah make their way safely across the dangerous intersection.
TRUCK DRIVER FAILS TO OBSERVE THE RULES OF THE ROAD
In the confluence of these deadly circumstances at the intersection, the truck driver who smashed into Savannah’s car was driving dangerously fast for the conditions. Had the truck driver observed the rules contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) regarding driving conditions that day, he would have slowed his semi-tractor trailer to a safe speed, allowing Savannah to safely cross the intersection or allowing the truck driver to stop or swerve to avoid hitting her. Truck drivers are required to observe these federally-mandated rules in the FMCSR, comprised largely of rules to keep the traveling public – particularly drivers of passenger cars and trucks – safe from these 40-ton killing machines.
Paul and Vicki filed a lawsuit on the one-year anniversary of Savannah’s death in 2014. The lawyers at McCallister Law Firm will be Savannah’s voice. The case is currently pending and has not yet been decided.
THE LIFELONG RELATIONSHIP
Paul and Brian McCallister have become close in the short time they have known each other. Paul said, “Brian cares about people. He is a fighter, but he is also tactful in his approach to things. When Savannah was buried, I didn’t even know it, but Brian was right there in the background. He gave us the space we needed in the most difficult time of our life.”
“Brian is a man of faith, too. And so am I. We both know that God has brought us together to do this for Savannah. Savannah’s church life was very important to her, too. So I feel like we have been brought together with Brian for a reason. And I know that Brian and I will remain friends forever, no matter the result.”