A wrongful death lawsuit against the state of Connecticut seeks $15 million in damages for the 2007 deaths of two parents sitting in the front seat of a car on the Merritt Parkway in Westport. As the parents drove on the highway, a 70-foot tall pine tree collapsed on the Volvo XC90 SUV, killing both of them in a tragic accident.
The accident occurred at approximately 9:15 p.m. on June 9, 2007. Two boys, who were 7 and 9 years old, were sitting in the vehicle's back passenger seat while their 46-year-old father, a doctor and biomedical researcher, drove south on the road. Their 44-year-old mother, a corporate attorney, was riding in the front passenger seat of the SUV.
The tree fell on the car, traveling approximately 15 feet up an embankment and 35 feet off the roadway. When it smashed through the car's windshield, the couple sitting in the front seat both suffered fatal injuries. The children in the back seat suffered various bruises, scrapes, and cuts, but fortunately survived. They were, however, traumatized by seeing both their parents die.
The lawsuit contends that the state negligently failed to take proper measures to prevent the tree from falling on a car and should have known that it was beset by decay, making such a tragedy likely. Inspection measures taken by the state Department of Transportation (DOT), however, were reportedly inadequate, so that the hazard was not discovered until it was too late, with tragic results. Had an inspector noticed the already existing damage to the tree, a more thorough inspection could have been conducted, and, if necessary, the tree removed.
Source: Hartford Courant, "Millions Sought From State In Deaths From Tree Falling On Car," Jon Lender, April, 7, 2012