Negligence on the part of the Buncombe County Board of Education and Roberson High football coach, Jim Beatty, contributed to the death of a 15-year-old student run over by ATV at the high school, lawsuits states.
The complaint was filed in Buncombe County Superior Court and is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.
Donald “Donnie” Boyer Crotty suffered a severe head injury after being struck by an ATV driven by another student during a high school football practice on July 11, 2011. He died ten days later.
The wrongful death lawsuit names the school board, Beatty and the student who was driving the ATV, as defendants.
The defendants denied the allegations in their response, stating the driver “exercised reasonable care.”
Authorities stated that Crotty was walking along a path with a group when the ATV approached them from the opposite direction. As Crotty and the others moved out of the way, the vehicle clipped one of Crotty’s legs and awkwardly spun him before running over him.
Following an investigation, it was determined that the driver was not at fault and no horseplay was involved. Sheriff Van Duncan called the accident “just a freak thing.”
But the lawsuit claims the ATV driver “traveled at an unsafe and excessive rate of speed as several other football players, including the decedent, were also walking on the field.”
The driver “operated the vehicle in a careless, negligent and reckless manner and without due regard for Donald Boyer Crotty and the other players.”
Beatty “had a duty to assure the safety of the T.C. Roberson students” under his supervision, failed to “designate a safe, reasonable speed” for operating the ATV and failed to limit operation of the vehicle to adults, according to the lawsuit.
It was stated that no one at the school provided any training or guidance to students regarding the safe operation of the vehicle.
But the answer to the lawsuit stated that the ATV driver “exercised reasonable care when driving the John Deere motorized vehicle but was unsuccessful in avoiding the accident which is the subject of this action.”
Crotty, “through his own negligence, was in a position of actual peril from which he could have extricated himself if he were more attentive,” the answer states.
Not even a month after Crotty’s death, school board members approved a policy prohibiting students from driving school system vehicles unless it is part of the curriculum.
Superintendent Tony Baldwin said the policy change was “an attempt to reduce the possibility of a similar incident occurring in the future.”
The measure prohibits students from driving vehicles owned by the school system “unless the student’s operation of the vehicle/motorized equipment is identified within a course of curriculum approved by the state.” Driver education and vehicles and equipment used as part of the agriculture curriculum are exempt from this policy.
Do you feel that the coach and school board were at fault for improper supervision? Although investigators ruled that the driver was not at fault, do you agree? Feel free to comment on this blog post. For more information, contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).