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$7 million suit filed in fatal bridge plunge

Posted on : 17-06-2009 | By : Truckdriversnews | In : Tractor trailer accident

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The family of the truck driver who was killed last August when his tractor-trailer crashed through the side of the Bay Bridge filed a $7 million lawsuit Tuesday against the young woman whose vehicle was found to have crossed the center line, setting off the events that led to the fatal plunge.

The widow, children and father of trucker John R. Short Sr. allege that Candy Lynn Baldwin, who was 19 at the time of the crash, had been drinking illegally before attempting to drive from Baltimore to the Eastern Shore the morning of Aug. 10.

According to the suit filed in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court, the 1997 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Baldwin crossed the center line of the eastbound span, which at the time was in two-way operation. The suit states that Short swerved to avoid a head-on collision but was sideswiped by the Camaro and slid across the bridge and through the concrete barrier. The tractor-trailer fell about 30 feet into the Chesapeake Bay, and Short drowned in the cab of his vehicle.

Short’s truck was the first vehicle to crash through one of the safety barriers in the 56-year history of the bridge.

After an investigation, Baldwin was charged with crossing the center line, negligent driving and violating a restriction on her drivers’ license against underage drinking. Court records show that in January she paid fines totaling $470 on the three charges without appearing in court.

Baldwin was spared facing more serious charges such as vehicular manslaughter or driving while intoxicated, but a lawyer for Short’s survivors said the family believes alcohol was a factor in the crash.

“Our experts believe she was impaired by alcohol,” said attorney Keith S. Franz.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in compensatory and $2 million in punitive damages.
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