A Mecklenburg County jury unanimously ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor, awarding $6 million dollars against a Charlotte development company which didn't install a traffic light at an intersection where a fatal accident took place.
The tragic accident occurred in April 2009. Two people, a 23 year-old Matthews man driving a Mitsubishi Eclipse and a 47 year-old Lake Wylie, S.C. woman driving a Chevrolet Camaro were drag racing, reaching speeds of up to 100 mph on N.C. 49. The driver of the Eclipse slammed into a Mercedes that was turned left from Riverpointe to go a church. The driver of the Mercedes, a 45-year-old professor at Winthrop University, and her 2-year-old daughter, were killed. Also killed was a 13 year-old passenger in the Eclipse.
The driver of the Eclipse was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to at least three years and nine months in prison. The driver of the Camaro entered an Alford plea to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a minimum of two years and eight months in prison. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a jury to reach a guilty verdict.
The lawsuit accused Crescent Resources, which developed the posh Palisades community off N.C. 49, of negligence by not installing a traffic light at a dangerous intersection with Riverpointe Drive and Grand Palisades Parkway. According to the lawsuit, Crescent was awarded a conditional zoning to build The Palisades in 2006 that included installing a traffic signal at the N.C. 49 intersection at a cost of $219,718. The defendants argued that they were required to put up a signal when one was necessary and the city never proved that one was. They also argued that the deaths would not have been prevented if a traffic light was at the location. The jury disagreed and ruled in the victims’ families favor.
Scene of the fatal crash.