WEST UNION – A federal district court judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by relatives of a West Union man who was killed in a squad car crash.
The family of 83-year-old Willys H. Fritz took the city of West Union and Officer Bryson Hennigar to court alleging negligence in the July 17, 2017, collision near an intersection on Iowa Highway 150 while Hennigar was heading to a call.
“Based on the record before me, no reasonable jury could find Hennigar knew, or should have known, that his driving was so obviously dangerous that it was likely to cause an accident,” Judge Leonard Strand wrote in an opinion filed Nov. 20.
Hennigar was called to an argument at the Westwood Apartments and was making his way through the intersection with U.S. Highway 18 when the collision happened. The suit alleges the squad car — a Chevrolet Tahoe — accelerated to 60 mph two seconds before impact with Fritz’s GMC Sonoma. Evidence suggests the siren had been turned off seconds earlier, but the flashing lights were on, and other cars were yielding.
The judge said evidence showed the officer had a clear lane until the Sonoma pulled into his path.
“Because Hennigar was driving in emergency mode leading up to the accident, nearby vehicles were obligated to yield and it was reasonable for Hennigar to believe that they would do so,” Strand wrote.
Attorneys for Fritz’s estate have filed a notice that they intend to appeal the ruling.
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