A closer look into the tort claim made by the families of the airmen who were killed this summer

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-29 22:14:03-05

BOISE — This summer Senior Airman Carlos Johnson, Senior Airman Lawrence Manlapit III and Senior Airman Karlie Westall were killed in a fiery crash on Interstate 84 beneath where the Cloverdale Bridge used to be.

The families have filed a tort claim against the State of Idaho, the Idaho State Police, Idaho Transportation Department, Penhall the contractor, Specialty Traffic Control Construction Supply and Parametrix who designed the plans.

To seek damages against government agencies it requires a tort that needs to be filed 180 days after the incident, which happened on June 16th.

Through a public records request we found the tort filed by the Johnson family through local law office Craig Swapp & Associates, the tort was filed on November 19.

In the tort it claims negligence of the above agencies citing unsafe construction zone, a failure to warn drivers of hazards and a failure to take action after being notified of a dangerous situation.

The traffic control plan featured four signs at least a thousand feet apart leading up to the construction zone where the interstate went from four lanes to one, those signs notified drivers that construction was coming and that they needed to slow down.

"And as you get down the road you start to see the barrels that narrow the traffic from this case from four lanes to one you also have the arrows that point to the merge as well," said Vincent Trimboli of ITD in an interview conducted this summer.

The plan claimed that a vehicle traveling at the 55 miles per hour speed limit would have two minutes and twenty seconds to maneuver into the proper lane.

As far as a tort claim the government agencies, according to Idaho law have 90 days to reply, they can admit responsibility which is extremely rare, they can deny the claim which is also rare or they could not respond which is common and the next step would be a lawsuit.

The Johnson family is seeking five million dollars in damages, however the maximum amount that state agencies that can sued for is $500,000.

We reached out to ITD who couldn't comment because of the litigation, however, they did point us to the traffic control plan that was used for construction on Interstate 84.

We also reached out to the attorney representing the Johnson family who told us it has been a difficult holiday for the family as this Christmas marked the first one they experienced without their child.