Archive for Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Fatal accident won’t result in charges

August 30, 2005


Douglas County Dist. Atty. Charles Branson on Monday said he would not file criminal charges against an Ottawa man involved in a fatal accident May 23 on the southern edge of Lecompton.

Records indicate a 2000 Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by Michael Sluka, 22, of Ottawa, crossed the center line and collided head-on with a 2001 Chevrolet driven by 51-year-old Betty Irvin. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

"For us to charge this individual with vehicular homicide or with vehicular manslaughter, there has to be more than mere negligence involved. A traffic infraction is not enough," Branson said.

"In this case, a review of the facts does not find the necessary level of negligence."

Irvin's widower, Michael Irvin, declined comment on the decision. "I'm not saying anything," he said, "I don't want to screw up my civil case."

Branson said a decision on whether Sluka will be issued a traffic ticket is pending.


Debbie Guy Spreer 12 years, 9 months ago

I sure hope they give this guy a ticket! This poor woman lost her life! Her husband lost his mate! I think her life was more than just a traffic ticket!

Terry Bush 12 years, 9 months ago

In order to give someone a traffic ticket there has be probable cause evidence showing that a traffic law has to be broken. Sometimes, no laws get broken and car accidents still happen. There is a difference between an action that is illegal (e.g. driving recklessly) and an action that is negligent (e.g. driving in a manner that isn't perfect - or having a tire blow out while driving).

But have no fear - the deceased woman's husband/family may quite likely have (and bring) a civil law suit against the driver and his insurance company. That is where the family goes to court to seek monetary damages for negligent driving. The burden of proof in a civil damage case is lower then for prosecuting someone for alleged criminal behavior (The best example of that my be the OJ Simpson case; the prosecutors did not convince a jury that OJ was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt - but the jury in the civil case found that OJ was more likely then not to have killed those people - Same facts, different kind of case and different kinds of penalties).

So it's not "The end of the story" if prosecutors don't bring charges. A civil cause of action is almost always available to any set of facts that might have also given rise to a criminal case. Many times the government cannot be "big brother" for all purposes. And that is not always a bad thing....

onehotmomma 12 years, 9 months ago

Thank god for lawsuits. His insurance company will pay the max out on the liability and still he wants to file a civil suit? Sometimes accidents are just accidents.

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