Man suing Topeka after falling through gap in bridge

Topeka — A man is suing the city of Topeka for nearly $2.78 million in damages for injuries he suffered when he fell through a gap in a highway bridge in the same place four people have plunged through since 2001, including a 14-year-old boy who died.

The lawsuit filed Monday contends Trong Do Turner suffered severe and disabling injuries on July 9, 2017 when he fell through a gap between the northbound and southbound lanes of the Kansas Avenue Bridge where he mistakenly believed there was a sidewalk.

Signs at both ends of the bridge warn that no foot traffic is provided but the lawsuit said Turner entered the bridge from a sidewalk where no warning was posted, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

City spokeswoman Molly Hadfield said the city doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Eric Kjorlie, names the city; its engineering division and public works department; public works director Jason Peak; city engineer Shawn Bruns; and one or more unnamed city employees.

The bridge included a pedestrian walkway between its northbound and southbound lanes when it was built in 1967. Most, but not all, the sidewalk was removed when the city redesigned it in 1996 and 1997 to make the bridge handicap accessible.

Two 14-year-old boys fell through the gap in 2001. One of them, Raymond Cox, died, and the other, Jason Beckwith, was seriously injured.

Kjorlie also represents Julie Kathleen Grey in a lawsuit filed after she fell through the gap in June 2014. The fall left her “crippled for life,” according to the $1.3 million lawsuit.

The lawsuit was dismissed in Shawnee County District Court in 2018, but the Kansas Court of Appeals in March of that year sent the case back to the county court, where it is pending.


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