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Family Of Ambulance Crash Victim Files Suit Against Driver, Company

The family of a man killed in an ambulance crash earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against the driver and company, court records show. P-J file photo

The family of a 77-year-old Dunkirk man who died in an ambulance crash in February is now filing suit against the ambulance company and driver.

Documents obtained from the State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County reveal the widow and son of Arthur R. McArthur Sr. are accusing driver Robin L. Morey, 49, of Erie, Pa., as well as EmergyCare, an Erie-based ambulance service, of “negligence … and recklessness” leading up to McArthur’s death.

The accident, according to New York State Police, occurred Feb. 14 around 5:15 p.m. while Morey was transporting McArthur from UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa, to the Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Dunkirk.

On State Route 5, Morey reportedly left the roadway, entered a ditch and struck a culvert. McArthur was pronounced dead at the scene, while Morey and an EMT in the rear of the ambulance were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

After the accident, multiple news reports indicated Morey told police she had fallen asleep at the wheel. Police told The Post-Journal, however, that no driver negligence was discovered. So far, Morey has only been ticketed for failing to stay in the driving lane.

Christopher O’Brien, a Buffalo-based attorney representing the McArthur family, said it is still unclear what exactly led to the crash and that more information from the police is required.

In a complaint and summons filed last month, O’Brien said McArthur suffered “conscious pain and suffering” as a result of the accident and his clients are now seeking damages.

Defenders of Morey and EmergyCare, however, denied the family’s allegations, insisting Morey suffered a “sudden and unanticipated” medical emergency that caused her to veer off the road.

According to Sarah E. Hansen, a Buffalo-based attorney with Burden, Hafner and Hansen LLC., representing the defendants, McArthur’s death fell into the category of an “unavoidable accident, sudden emergency or Act of God”— as a result, Morey and EmergyCare are not guilty of any negligence.

Moreover, she said, the deceased failed to use available seat belts in the ambulance and therefore knowingly “assumed a risk” when being transported.

O’Brien scoffed at the claim.

“(McArthur’s) adult children and widow are aware the defense is saying this as a normal part of the litigation … but in terms of them alleging that their father did something wrong that either caused his injuries or failed to do something that would have limited the damages … they view that as adding insult to injury,” he said.

Burden, Hafner and Hansen LLC., did not return calls placed by The Post-Journal on Wednesday.

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