Claim settled in 5-death I-83 crash Parties in 1 case agree out of court

November 01, 1990|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff

A $24 million lawsuit against a trucker who killed five people in an accident on Interstate 83 in Hunt Valley last year has been settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

George W. White Jr., the Towson attorney representing Lesa Dalton and her daughter, Brittany, yesterday acknowledged settlement of the Baltimore County Circuit Court suit against Donald Armstrong Lee, the truck driver, and his employer, Durrett-Sheppard Steel Co. Inc. of Baltimore.

"I can't tell you how much," said White, citing an agreement between the parties to keep the amount of the settlement confidential. "But I can tell you I wouldn't have settled for anything but a substantial amount."

Edward Dalton, 28, of Stewartstown, Pa., husband of Lesa, died instantly April 18 last year after Lee's northbound 18-wheeler inexplicably crossed I-83 and slammed head-on into six cars and small trucks that were southbound. The crash occurred about 6:10 a.m. near the Shawan Road interchange at Hunt Valley.

Dalton's Chevrolet Corvette was demolished.

Bennett John Pearson, 38, an electrician from New Freedom, Pa., and Timothy Wayne Miller, 23, a carpenter from Fawn Grove, Pa., also were killed instantly.

Glenn C. Helsfel, 31, an electrician from Shrewsbury, Pa., who was commuting to work with Pearson, died three hours later at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore. Troy Roth, 20, a bridge construction worker from Dover, Pa., who was riding to work with Miller, died four days later.

Several other people were injured in the crash.

Lee, 43, of the 1600 block of Ramblewood Road in Northwood, was charged initially with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, negligent driving and failure to drive in a single lane of traffic. Later, he was charged with five counts of automobile manslaughter.

Last March, Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Dana Levitz acquitted Lee of the manslaughter charges, saying there was not enough evidence to prove a wanton and reckless disregard for life.

Lee's blood alcohol level the morning of the crash was found to be 0.05 percent, below the Maryland limit of 0.07 for impairment and 0.10 for intoxication.

Levitz did convict Lee of four traffic violations and fined him the maximum of $2,000.

Several other civil lawsuits filed against Lee and the company are pending.

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