On September 24, 2015, 18-year-old Phuong Dinh snapped photographs from her window seat in a charter bus filled with other North Seattle College students as it motored across the Aurora Bridge.
“And then, ‘Bam,’ ” she recalls. “Nothing else. Just flashes after that. I would faint. Then I would be awake and very bad pain all over. Then I would faint.”
Later in a hospital bed, memories from a deadly crash flooded back: She remembered blood covering her face and dripping down. She saw a bone piercing through the skin of her left leg.
The left side of Phuong’s body was crushed. She suffered a broken wrist, arm, hip, knee, and extensive facial lacerations. Now, four surgeries later and almost three months after the crash, Phuong spends her days in a Central District nursing facility in Seattle, slogging toward recovery and worrying about her future.
Phuong cried often during her initial weeks in the rehab facility. Now she says she doesn’t cry as much because she is getting used to the pain. Phuong’s main concern now is learning to walk again. Still unable to bear weight on her left leg, the bones of which are now reinforced with metal rods and screws, she mostly needs to use a wheelchair.
Aside from the continuing health-care costs which will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Phuong’s parents have paid their own travel from Vietnam to Seattle, and while they’ve had their lodging covered by the Salvation Army, they worry about the future.
Phuongs’s father, Hiep, who runs a family construction business, remains in Seattle. Her mother, Thao, has had to fly back and forth to Vietnam to also care for Phuong’s 3 year old sister and 6 year old brother. The little kids are staying with their grandparents and a nanny.
Once Phuong gets out of the nursing home the family will have to figure out how to care for her so that she can attend school. A host family is probably no longer possible due to Phuong’s physical disabilities and need for accommodation.
A message from Phuong: “Thank you for caring for me and my family. Knowing I have your support means the world to me.” Visit her fundraising site here. Thank you for considering giving, during this difficult time for Phuong.
A few days ago, news reported the plight of SKW client, Phuong Dinh, 18 year old international student, who was seriously injured in the Oct. 2015 Ride the Ducks crash. With a long way to go in her recovery, she also had to worry about losing her health coverage. Please read about the wonderful turn of events in today’s Seattle Times article,”Ride the Ducks crush victim to get help from state, college.
Decide for yourself who has the more cogent arguments, when watching the Washington State Supreme Court oral arguments for Wuthrich v. King County. We’re proud of Ray Kahler, Seattle/Hoquiam trial lawyer for demonstrating his mastery of the relevant case law in arguing for Wuthrich.
Today, our own Ray Kahler* argued in front of the Washington State Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiff Wuthrich against King County. To boil the issue down to the most basic form: Does the County have a duty to maintain property where overgrown vegetation may obstruct sight lines and result in a car accident?
The Supreme Court has not decided this issue, and it has been over 50 years since the Supreme Court has addressed the question of whether a governmental entity can be liable for failure to maintain vegetation that presents a sight obstruction. This case gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to decide these questions.
Our SKW legal team* argued that, in light of the waiver of sovereign immunity, a governmental entity should be held to the same standard as a private landowner with regard to the duty to maintain vegetation: It should not create a hazard for motorists on the adjacent roadways.
Check back for a link to today’s oral arguments!
*Ray Kahler, Keith Kessler along with Garth Jones and Brad J. Moore make up the SKW team for plaintiff Guy Wuthrich.
Well folks, Dan Laurence responded to my previous blog post. Admittedly, I’m surprised that he agrees: The possible new law allowing cyclists to simply yield at stop signs is a bad idea. Here’s what he says:
People for the “Idaho stop” law tend to focus on the personal convenience (personal rights!) and not the epidemiological consequences (social Responsibilities!). Allowing cyclists to not stop is one more variable thrown into the set of expectations for predicting behavior of other vehicles on the road.
I actually believe that laws that treat cyclists differently from motor vehicles are, on balance, dangerous for cyclists, because they vacate commonly appreciated expectations for road behavior. To be safe, a driver needs to not only obey the law, but be able to predict what other road users are likely to do. confusion in that regard decreases safety. at least some driver’s won’t know the new law, or will be angry about it and ignore it out of spite. Moreover, the “Idaho stop” law would lead to complacency among cyclists. the increase in convenience promised by an “IDAHO STOP” comes with increased risk of collisions with motor vehicles and pedestrians.
True, compared to motor vehicles, cyclists go relatively slowly and have unobstructed vision. They are usually capable of appreciating cross-traffic risk so long as they come to a “rolling stop”. Moreover, they feel the pressure of holding back traffic behind them. Asking cyclists to signed intersections with no traffic seems ridiculous to cyclists much of the time. But the real problem is cyclists who will use the law as a reason not to bother to slow down, or develop a bad habit of thinking “this intersection never has cross traffic, so why bother to slow down?”, or who ignore the fact that cars may not see them on approach to the intersection. [Emphasis added.] This is especially true among cyclists in dark clothing without lights who ride in twilight, on gloomy days, or at night; something i see (unfortunately) all the time. There is also the problem of the car on the opposing side ready to turn left that fails to signal, or signals but thinks the cyclist will yield, and will turn left in front of the cyclist.
I’m sure I could go on, but Catherine, as much as I don’t like stopping unnecessarily, I agree with you. As a cyclist, I think that if I run a stop sign, the risk should fall squarely on me.
Let’s not pass this law. #ItSoundsLikeABadIdea given that few cyclists are getting tickets for running stop signs, i question the need for the change in law. Better simply to treat the issue similarly to the way Seattle treats marijuana usage: a very low priority enforced only when someone is behaving recklessly.
The divide between cyclists and drivers seems to grow by the month. Personally, I try to sit on the sidelines because I can see both perspectives. However, I also see drivers practically kill cyclists with inattention and poor habits. In many ways, I’m a wanna-be-cyclist, as I love to ride my bike with my child around our quiet neighborhood of Magnolia. However, at my job I see more than my share of tragic accidents, where diligent cyclists get mowed down because a driver was too busy texting his girlfriend or just didn’t bother to yield at a stop sign for a cyclist, who had the right of way.
Regardless, I’m undecided about the possible new law that will allow cyclists in San Francisco to yield at a stop sign. The widely acknowledged “Idaho stop,” named because it’s legal in Idaho for cyclists, may cause greater consternation among drivers, who are increasingly angered by rule-flouting cyclists. From my vantage point, it #SoundsLikeABadIdea. But, I’m going to ask our resident cyclist/attorney, Dan the Bike Man, for his studied perspective. Stay tuned for some potentially interesting banter between Dan, an endurance cyclist by night/weekend and trial attorney by day and myself, the mild-mannered pseudo-cyclist…
A couple weeks have passed since the last significant crash Aurora Bridge that claimed six lives. Based on a KING5 news story tonight, a safety team of sorts is assembling. Team members are comprised of six individuals from SDOT and two from WSDOT.
The SDOT members include the city’s traffic engineer, two collision analysts, a corridor safety expert and the division manager for transportation. A project manager along with a state traffic engineer and regional administrator will head the team. Additionally, police and other city and state agencies are expected to participate.
Some of the members wear different hats within their agencies and others will focus entirely on their role on this team per KING5 investigative reporter, Glenn Farley.
This time, let’s shine a light on this entire process and ensure that the City and State follow through in making the bridge safer. Rather than focusing on misleading statistics (e.g., the relatively “low” number of crashes), let’s open our eyes to widespread and well-founded concerns of those who must drive on this bridge regularly with the fear of another fatal collision.
I’ve written about the dangers of brain injury for football players before, and knew that it was a matter of time when another tragedy on the football field would claim the life of another player. This time, it was young Kenney Bui of Highline School District.
Seventeen year old Kenney was a student at the Technology, Engineering, and Communications High School on the Evergreen campus. Last week, he went down for an injury in the fourth quarter of a game. After hospitalization, doctors learned that he had a previous concussion weeks before the football game that claimed his life. Not much to say about this, given that the details are scant regarding Kenney’s fatal injuries. Nevertheless, our heart goes out to the family, friends, and teammates of Kenney. We hope that somehow more people grow aware of the risks around football, as much as it’s a beloved sport in our country. There has to be a way to make it safer and less of a risk for brain injuries.
This past Thursday’s deadly Aurora Bridge crash is a wake up call. Some reporters are sounding the alarm. Thanks to these reporters and responsive lawmakers, I have hope that we will see big changes on the Aurora Bridge. My reason for this hope is in large part thanks to Glenn Farley’s investigative piece on KING5 and the article by Seattle Times reporters Mike Lindblom and Joseph O’Sullivan*. These reporters are pressing the important issue, rather than focusing entirely on the clumsy Ducks.
As I previously blogged, the City and the State have known for years that there are fixes to avoid more tragic accidents on the Aurora Bridge. Our firm learned this via depositions when representing victims from the 1998 incident on the bridge (that claimed six lives). Now, we are getting calls from victims and families from this past Thursday’s deadly crash, given our record settlements/verdicts with wrongful death/catastrophic injuries cases in Seattle against the government.
Skeptics claim that a jersey barrier wouldn’t have done anything to prevent this fatal crash between an amphibious Duck and a charter bus. I respectfully disagree, given experts’ reports (from the earlier Aurora Bridge case). These experts explain how certain jersey barriers would deflect and minimize the impact of oncoming traffic.
Times like this, in the aftermath of a horrific tragedy, help to provide us with important insights on how we may prevent more needless loss of lives.
NOTE: Nathan Wilson, KOMO TV, executive producer/director at KOMO News also did a story, interviewing our own Keith Kessler, who represented several victims from the previous, high profile Aurora Bridge crash. Check back soon to see a link to that story.