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March 13, 1998     Cape Gazette
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March 13, 1998

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No trial date set for Trout civil case Bus driver faces more court action for student's death By Kerry Kester Delaware Superior Court has not yet provided a trial date for the suit that Ray G. and Christina Trout filed in November against Helen Hare, R & M Buses Inc. and Roscoe Rifle II. The Trouts filed the civil suit against the par- ties, claiming they are liable for the automobile fatality that claimed their daughter's life ap- proximately a year ago. Alison Lea Trout, 14, died March 7, 1997, when she was struck by a vehicle in front of her home on Sussex 285, as she at- tempted to board a school bus. The state prosecuted the bus dri- ver, Helen Hare, in the Court of Common Pleas, for careless dri- ving. A hung jury at Hare's Au- gust trial resulted in a mistrial; the state discontinued further prose- cution. According to Kathleen Jen- nings, the attorney representing the Trouts, the Trouts requested a jury trial. Jennings said there was little about the Trout/case that she could specifically address. How- ever, Jennings explained that in cases of wrongful death, the two primary issues are the value of the decedent's estate, which in the Trout's case is of minor conse- quence, and the mental anguish the survivors endure following the death. She said that in such cases, those suing - the plaintiffs - must prove that those they are suing - the defendants - are liable. The plaintiffs must also indicate the nature of the damage that resulted from a wrongful death. The Trout complaint refers to damage such as pain and suffering, mental an- guish and permanent emotional damage. Jennings said that when a jury declares a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, it also decides the financial amount the defendants must award the plaintiffs. "How in the world could you compensate someone for the loss of a child?" Jennings said. "You can't." However, she said, the ju- dicial system provides the only thing it can to attempt to compen- sate people whose loved ones have died: it allows for wrongful death suits and judgments. The Trout's suit alleges Hare "was negligent, reckless and acted in a willful and wanton manner" because she failed to observe traf- fic laws, failed to follow school bus procedures and policies, was inattentive, "failed to maintain proper control over her vehicle," and she didn't ensure Alison's safety. The complaint includes the bus company in the suit, because Hare was employed by it at the time of the accident. Rifle is named in the suit, because hi s daughter, a mi- nor, wa s operating the vehicle that struck Alison. The complaint al- leges the 17-year-old driver did not operate the vehicle appropri- ately and was driving too fast. At the time of the accident, a state police spokesman said that the teen who was operating the vehicle had no warning that the bus was stopped, because the lights were not activated. "On- coming traffic or traffic that was traveling behind the school bus had no warning that the bus was stopped," said Cpl. Preston Lewis, near the time of the accident. "Anyone would have continued without warning lights." The Delaware State Police Fatal Accident Investigation and Re- construction (FAIR) team report filed in the case included inter- views with 10 people, including three people who witnessed but were not involved in the accident. The speed limit posted for that section of the road was 50 mph; the FAIR team report stated the car that struck Alison was travel- ing "a minimum speed of 53 mph." One witness to the acci- dent estimated the car was travel- ing at 45 mph; another said the ve- hicle didn't appear to be speeding; and the third estimated the car was traveling between 50 mph and 60 mph. Six of those who recalled the accident to FAIR team members reported the bus warning lights were not activated. Three other witnesses, including Ray Trout, stated they did not remember whether the lights were on. Christina Trout stated that she be- lieved the lights were activated. The FAIR team report stated that it was the investigator's opin- ion "that responsibility for this collision rests with the school bus operator, Helen Hare, and the pedestrian/victim, Alison Lea Trout." The report concludes as fol- Continued on page 12 Q We love the beach, the sun and fresh air, but already have to replace faded, mildewed cushions, can you help? A Sue Stevenson There are fabrics available to upholster furniture even if it is going to be outside 24 hours a day that resist sun and water damage. There are even foam products that will drain rainwater right through so that shortly after the rain stops, the furniture is dry enough to use. Furniture, floors and carpeting inside the home need to be protected from the sun's rays as well, with some sort of shade, filter, or other treatment on the windows. We can help you determine what suits your needs best from the many choices available. Q A Ron Oronzio I saw a wall the other day that looked custom sponge painted, but when I asked it turned out to be wallpaper. Is that something new? Faux finishes have been popular for walls for some time now, but having mem custom painted can be expensive - several dollars a square ,foot. We offer faux painting here at Dreamweaver s, but as an option we also have wallpapers that imitate the look at a fraction of the cost. The nice thing about wallpaper is it is easy to change in a couple of years when something else catches your eye! There are also papers that look like fabric, and even photo murals for a dramatic statement. Come see our selection, and if we don't have the right thing readily available, we have access to thousands more via our computer programs. CAPE GAZETI, Friday, March 13 - March 19, 1998 - 11 "We'll be here tomorrow to keep the Promises we made today." Gordy Insurance Agency, Inc. @ 102 Federal St. Milton 684-3413 L & M Insurance Agency (a division of Gordy Insurance Agency, Inc.) 349-5003 Specializing in Personal, Commercial & Financial Insurance Coverage. Subscribe to the Cape Gazette - Call 645-7700 I TL Q A How often should I wax my hardwood floor? Never!! Today's protective coatings for hardwood floors last a long time and never require waxing. In fact, if you do wax the floor, you will not be able to wet-mop it, and you will have to re-wax every six - twelve months. The only way to remove wax thoroughly is to sand the floor back to raw wood. We can make floor- care suggestions, and can also make old floors new again with finishes that will hold up for many years with no more care than an occasional light mopping! Tum/ng 3tour &comtmg &e.atm into reaRaes. Visit our Shourrotnn 1521 Savannah Rd., Lewes or call 644-0800 to schedule a no-costno obligation In.Home Consultation. Hunter Douglas Priority dealer. On site drapery cleaning.