Nanoose Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook photo

B.C. municipality argues woman who drove down mudslide could have avoided crash

District of Lantzville, Emcon and Province of B.C. file responses in lawsuit

The woman who drove off a road washed out by a mudslide this winter should have taken evasive action when it was apparent that an accident was imminent, according to the District of Lantville.

The municipality, the Ministry of Transportation and Emcon Services Inc. have filed responses in a civil lawsuit brought forward by Karena Donnelly, who was driving a vehicle that plunged down a landslide area on Rumming Road in the early morning hours Jan. 29 after heavy rains had washed out the road.

Donnelly, who was rescued by Arrowsmith Search and Rescue a little more than an hour after her vehicle was turned upside-down 20 metres down an embankment, filed a notice of civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against the district, the ministry and the road contractor, accusing them of failing to maintain the road surface when they “knew or should have known” that it was unsafe and unstable. Her claim also stated that she continues to suffer personal injuries and has been unable to work as a result of the incident.

RELATED: Woman who was caught in mudslide in Lantzville now suing for negligence

However, according to the District of Lantzville’s response, filed in late August, Donnelly didn’t suffer any injuries at all as a result of the accident. The municipality contends she was driving while impaired by “one or more of alcohol, drugs, fatigue or illness,” that she was speeding and that she failed to take “proper” action when it was apparent that an accident was about to happen.

The district also alleges that Donnelly was distracted, driving a vehicle that had no brakes or defective brakes and that she failed to apply the brakes in time to avoid the accident.

While Rumming Road is in Lantzville, the district does not exercise any control over the area where the accident happened and it is the province that is responsible for “care and control” of the area, according to the district’s response.

The district also says Donnelly should have “followed medical advice” in order to mitigate the severity of her “alleged” injury as a result of the accident.

RELATED: Woman rescued after mudslide in Lantzville, region reports flooding

The Ministry of Transportation and Emcon Services Inc. also submitted responses to the Donnelly’s civil claim. Their responses included similar allegations made by the district.

In Emcon’s response, it claims that immediately before and after the accident, other motorists were able drive on the road safely. Emcon also alleges that Donnelly failed to properly wear or adjust a seatbelt and that her headrests were not adjusted correctly.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation’s response states that if Donnelly suffered any injuries or loss it was because of “pre-existing” or “subsequent” ailments.

All three defendants claim Donnelly did not suffer any injuries at all.

The allegations have not been proven in court.



nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

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