Suit filed in Five Points traffic death

jmonk@thestate.comDecember 1, 2013 

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Two daughters of a Columbia man in a wheelchair who was hit and killed last year by a dump truck in Five Points have filed a wrongful-death suit against the dump truck company and its truck driver.

George Jackson, 67, was in a motorized wheelchair and “had the right of way to cross Harden Street” when the dump truck driven by William Crutchfield was stopped for a red light at Harden and Greene streets, according to the lawsuit.

“Crutchfield then drove the dump truck forward through the pedestrian area of the intersection and struck Mr. Jackson and his wheelchair,” the lawsuit alleges.

Jackson “fell from his wheelchair and onto the paved street,” the lawsuit alleges. “Crutchfield then proceeded to drag Mr. Jackson around the corner and west on Greene Street for several feet, causing substantial and fatal injuries to Mr. Jackson.”

In addition to Crutchfield, 68, who was working at the time for P&S Construction Co., the construction company is a named defendant in the lawsuit.

In an answer to the lawsuit, which was filed recently in Richland County Court of Common Pleas, attorneys for Crutchfield and the construction company have raised several defenses.

First, the defendants claim that Jackson’s death was his own fault, due to his “gross negligence ... carelessness and recklessness.” In another defense, they also claim that the death “was rather due to and caused by an unavoidable accident.”

Columbia attorney Mark Barrow, who represents the company and Crutchfield, declined comment.

The two plaintiffs’ attorneys, Randall Williams of Edgefield County and Derek Crawford, of Hamlet, N.C., who represent Jackson’s daughters, Jacquelyn Jackson and Iris Jackson, also declined comment.

Already a criminal charge against Crutchfield has been dismissed by city of Columbia Magistrate Judge Steedly Bogan.

After Jackson’s June 25, 2012 death, investigating Columbia police officers filed a charge of

reckless homicide against Crutchfield.

A warrant in that case said Crutchfield “failed to stop prior to the stop bar for a red traffic signal at the intersection of Greene Street and Harden Street. The defendant also failed to yield to the pedestrian (Mr. Jackson), who had the right of way in the crosswalk.”

“The actions of the defendant showed a wanton disregard for the safety of others,” the warrant said. In a preliminary hearing before Bogan last December, assistant 5th Circuit Solicitor Hans Pauling argued the case, opposed by Columbia defense attorney Wes Kirkland Jr., who represented Crutchfield.

After the hearing, a solicitor’s office spokeswoman said, Bogan asked each lawyer for a written brief. Last Dec. 7, Bogan dismissed the case, citing “insufficient probable cause.”

No trial date has been set for the wrongful death civil suit. According to the Richland County Clerk of Court’s office, it was first assigned to Judge Alison Lee, then transferred to Judge Robert Hood. Now, Judge G. Thomas Cooper is handling it.

Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.

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