Conn. Police Officer’s Widow Settles over Faulty Tire

March 24, 2005

A truck repair business will pay $800,000 to the widow of a police officer killed in high-speed highway chase in 2000 to settle allegations that it improperly installed a snow tire on his cruiser.

The officer’s widow, Kimberly Dingwall of Haddam, has agreed to the settlement proposed by the insurance carrier for Jukonski Truck Sales and Services of Middletown. Dingwall’s wrongful death lawsuit against the company was to go on trial later this month.

Dingwall also will receive $57,500 from Page & Warner Auto Parts, which sold the tires to Jukonski, according to the settlement.

“This represents full and final relief of any claims from the estate,” said Middletown Mayor Domenique Thornton. “As difficult as it is to move on from this tragedy, I would hope this (settlement) would assist her and her family in doing so.”

George Dingwall, 47, a 19-year veteran of the Middletown police department, was chasing two burglary suspects when he lost control of his cruiser and it crashed into trees in the median of Route 9 in Essex on Jan. 28, 2000. He left behind his wife and two children, now 18 and 15.

Both suspects are serving lengthy prison sentences.

Dingwall’s cruiser had three all-season radials and one snow tire. During one of the burglary suspect’s trials, experts said the mismatched tires could have affected the cruiser’s handling and stability at high speeds.

Testimony at the trial also said the city failed to correct the mismatch tires during a routine checkup of Dingwall’s cruiser about three weeks before the crash.

Kimberly Dingwall alleged in her wrongful death lawsuit that the mismatched tires caused her husband’s death.

Richard Jukonski, whose firm has been the city’s tire vendor for 35 years, said the settlement by his company’s insurance carrier caught him completely by surprise.

“You’re kidding. Eight hundred thousand? That’s the number? They didn’t even notify me,” said Jukonski, who maintained that the city was given ample notice to correct the mismatched tires before the crash.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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