After Deadly Crash, Washington County Fixes Road

June 12, 2012

Snohomish County, Wash., is preparing a safety overhaul of a steep stretch of road where a car crash last fall killed a Marysville teenager and seriously injured two others.

Some of the same the fixes planned for are the subject of a $50 million legal action brought last year on behalf of one of the injured teens, the Everett Herald reported Sunday.

The damage claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, accuses the county of neglecting to make improvements to an unsafe road.

The claim alleges problems with the slope, limited sight distance and lack of warning signs on 108th Street near 83rd Avenue NE.

“Are they going to agree that they’re accountable for this issue?” asked Jim Dore, one of the Kent attorneys who filed the claim. “Maybe that’s why they’re pushing it through so fast. They don’t want to be asked that question by the public.”

County prosecutors say the injured teen’s lawyers will have the chance to inspect the road and review findings of a collision investigation before any roadwork starts.

The work, which likely will be done this summer, is expected to cost up to $900,000.

The fatal wreck occurred on the afternoon of Oct. 24. Juan Mendoza, 16, died when the Honda Civic he was driving west on 108th Street went off the side of the road and hit a tree. Passenger Lars Kundu, 16, continues to recover from head, spinal and other injuries. Another passenger and fellow student, 17-year-old Andy Vavrousek, had serious injuries.

At the time of the accident, the three students had left school before cross-country practice, planning to return after a trip to a 7-Eleven.

In December, Dore and law partner Ann Deutscher filed a damage claim on behalf of the surviving teens and their families.

In addition to the damage amounts, the families requested that an outside agency, such as the Washington State Patrol, investigate the crash. They also wanted the county to hire an outside consultant, or even appoint a board, to examine future safety improvements.

Vavrousek’s family withdrew its part of the claim.

Kundu, meanwhile, continues a difficult healing process, according to his attorneys.

“He’s doing his best to recover and struggling to recover,” Deutscher said.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has yet to release its findings about the cause of the crash, but previously said speed is believed to have been a factor.

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