Fatal crash involving Johnston deputy leads to $1.25M settlement :: WRAL.com
Smithfield, N.C. — Johnston County commissioners on Monday approved a $1.25 million settlement to head off a potential wrongful death lawsuit by the estate of a woman killed in a January crash involving a deputy.
Deputy Quinton Rhue was responding to a call on Jan. 9 and was northbound on U.S. Highway 301 with his blue lights and siren on when he passed a line of traffic on the left, authorities said.
Shirley James, 63, of Kenly, was turning left from the highway onto Watson Road, when Rhue’s patrol car hit the driver’s door of James’ GMC Sonoma pickup, authorities said.
James died at the scene, and Rhue had to be extricated from his patrol car and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
Rhue was later charged with misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and unsafe passing in connection with the crash.
James’ family hadn’t filed a lawsuit over the crash, but county officials and its insurers agreed to settle any claims against Rhue and the sheriff’s office without admitting any liability, according to Robert Lucas, a Selma attorney representing the family.
“Shirley’s death was a true tragedy,” the family said in a statement released by Lucas. “She was a wonderful and loving person. Her family meant everything to her.”
The family said an analysis of a data recorder from Rhue’s patrol car showed he was driving 110 mph in a 45-mph zone near North Johnston High School around the time of the crash.
“Hopefully, the financial settlement/payout in this case will send the message that we all must be cautious and vigilant in order to protect others, whether we are an everyday driver or a law enforcement driver,” the family said in the statement.