Failure to Clean Out Drainage Ditch Caused Icing which Led to Death of High School Student
The failure of a local town to adequately maintain a drainage ditch adjacent to a road led to the death of one of our clients, an 18-year-old high school senior. The purpose of the drainage ditch was to divert water from flowing onto, accumulating and, during the winter months, freezing on the road. The drainage ditch should have been, but was not, cleaned out on a regular basis by the town. As a result, leaves, silt and debris gradually filled the ditch and rendered it useless. There was constant water overflow in the area and the roadway iced over in the winter. One such morning, as the client drove to school, his car skidded on a thick patch of ice on this road, crossed over the opposite lane, went down an incline, struck a tree and turned over. He died shortly afterwards. Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney sued the town under Connecticut’s defective highway statute and recovered a substantial settlement (the amount is confidential due to court order) for the young man’s estate, which was used to fund a scholarship for students at his high school. The tragedy of this accident was that it could have been easily prevented. In fact, once the ditch was cleaned out by the town after the crash, the water/icing problem went away.