Lawsuits in Fatal Va. Engine Crash Tell Different Tales

Two lawsuits have been filed in connection with a fatal 2010 fire truck collision that provide new and conflicting information about the crash.

Longtime Rocky Mount firefighters Posey Dillon and William Altice were killed July26, 2010, when a fire truck on its way to a house fire crashed into an SUV, flipped three times and landed on a car, according to police reports at the time.

Christine Altice-Weaver, executor of Altice's estate, filed a $2million lawsuit against Teri Anne Valentine, driver of the SUV, and Kimble Reynolds Sr., administrator of Dillon's estate, on March 26, according to Franklin County Circuit Court records.

The lawsuit also asks for taxable costs incurred with interest since the date of the wreck. And on April26, Valentine filed a $275,000 lawsuit, plus costs, against Reynolds as the administrator of Dillon's estate for negligence the day of the wreck. The lawsuits provide conflicting information about whether Dillon, the Rocky Mount fire chief and the town's vice mayor, turned on the truck's lights and sirens before entering the intersection at Old Franklin Turnpike and School Board Road where the fire truck and Valentine's SUV collided.

According to state police reports that day and both lawsuits, the SUV entered the intersection on a green light and the fire truck on a red. Valentine's suit states "Upon information and belief, the Fire Truck did not have its lights and sirens in use when it entered the Intersection."

The lawsuit states that Valentine was not aware of the fire truck entering the intersection until she saw the sun reflecting off the fire truck, and she immediately applied the brakes. At the time, state police said the truck's lights and sirens were on when it entered the intersection.

Altice-Weaver's lawsuit states that Dillon did have the lights and sirens on. "Ms. Valentine drove her Escape into the Intersection without stopping or slowing down and in complete disregard of the flashing lights and warning sirens that were allegedly operating on the approaching Fire Truck." According to reports at the time, the fire engine was eastbound on Old Franklin Turnpike near U.S. 220, responding to a report of a person trapped in a house fire in the Franklin County community of Union Hall, driven by Dillon with Altice in the passenger seat, police said.

Dillon swerved when a silver Ford Escape, driven by Valentine, drove into the intersection on a green light. The SUV struck the truck, which was loaded with 1,000 gallons of water, in the side and flipped from the shifting weight of the water, police said at the time.

Both lawsuits allege that Dillon was negligent in driving the fire truck when he did not stop or slow down before driving into the intersection against the Rocky Mount Fire Department and the International Association of Fire Chiefs protocol.

In January 2011, a grand jury rejected indictments against Valentine. Prosecutors had sought charges of vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving and failure to yield against her in the crash.

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