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Settlement OK'd for 3 killed in Baltimore fire truck collision

The family members of three people killed in a Baltimore fire truck accident will split a $40,000 settlement approved by the city's spending board. The figure is the highest amount allowable for motor tort claims involving police and firefighters responding to emergencies.

The December 2007 crash happened as a Baltimore County husband, wife and family friend were returning to the couple's home around 3 a.m. A Baltimore City fire truck was responding to a report of an apartment building fire and had its lights and siren on as it sped through an intersection at 47 mph. The truck collided with the couple's SUV, which was going about 23 mph. All three of its occupants died.

The accident is thought to be the worst fatal collision between a fire truck and a civilian vehicle in the city in 50 years. No criminal charges were filed against the driver, who failed to stop at the intersection even though emergency vehicles are required to stop at all red lights when responding to emergencies.

The 49-year-old woman who was driving the SUV left behind two grown children. She and her husband, who was 35, had been married for seven years. The 24-year-old man riding with them was engaged to be married. All were originally from Ukraine.

The $40,000 settlement is a relatively small sum, but will help offset the funeral and burial costs their families paid more than four years ago. They also received some compensation in insurance, but needed to rely on donations from other family members and friends for financial support.

What makes this case all the more tragic is that it was one of three civil lawsuits that the city recently settled involving its vehicles. One of the other crashes happened when a woman waiting for a bus was run down by a city Health Department worker who had either passed out or fallen asleep at the wheel. No one expects to suffer serious injuries or be killed by a public safety vehicle, but when it happens, it's often up to the victims and their loved ones to pursue compensation and hold the municipality responsible.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "City settles civil suits, one involving deaths in fire truck accident," Peter Hermann, May 8, 2012

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