In October, two emergency personnel were responding to the same accident. Deputy sheriff Gary McCormack and first responder Joshua C. Douglas, of the Ebenezer Fire Department, were both making their way to the scene of a crash with unknown injuries when they collided into one another. The collision occured at the intersection of Farm Road 145 and Greene County WW. Deputy McCormack was killed in the crash. Douglas was thrown from his truck and suffered multiple injuries. The family of McCormack is now suing the volunteer fire fighter. The lawsuit states that McCormack's death was a "direct result of Douglas's negligence, carelessness, and recklessness."
Let me start by saying this accident was such a tragedy and my deepest sympathy goes out to the McCormack Family.
Yet, I can't help but think that while as tragic as this incident was, the blame for this accident cannot rest solely on one individual. In looking at the facts reported in this case maybe there were things that both could have done to change the end result.
Let's not forget one important thing: they were both trying to get to people who needed their help. Every time a call goes out for help, emergency personnel risk their lives to help others.
Douglas, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol Reconstruction Report, was traveling 27 miles per hour when he approached the stop sign. He had slowed down because he had to turn.McCormack was traveling 93 miles an hour when he reached the intersection and they collided. Even if Douglas had looked to see if anyone was coming, someone traveling at that rate of speed could come out of nowhere. This does not even include the fact that there was trees and brush obstructing both of their views. And I don't care what you hit, moving or standing still, when you hit it at 93 miles an hour your chances of survival decrease dramatically. One has to wonder: was the death caused by the speed Douglas's vehicle was traveling or was it caused by the speed of the McCormack vehicle?
According to state law, emergency vehicles do not have to stop at stop signs. Rather, the law states they are to slow down and proceed with caution at stop signs and/or intersections. One could argue that no law was broken on behalf of Douglas. Further, if Douglas was going 27 and McCormick was going 93 and the law states that neither have to stop but slow down then who was the one using the most caution?
Additionally, suing for the cost of the funeral is conceivable, but to sue for the deputies' pain and loss of life? How does one put a price on that? What message does it send? The family of the person that dies gets to sue the one who lives? Or maybe we think it will make emergency personnel slow down and pay closer attention? Or maybe those that volunteer their time and skills to risk their lives for others will be afraid to???
While only those that knew Deputy McCormack can answer this question, what do you think his response would have been: "Sue the guy!" or "Maybe I could have slowed down somewhat at that intersection too..."?
"Maybe we were in such a hurry to help others that we both dropped the ball on this one".
"The death of Deputy McCormack is tragic but two families' lives were changed forever last October. The other tragedy is that in this day and time we can now put a price on it.