Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

May 17, 2013

City named in wrongful death suit

By Steven Penn

AVON — A family here is suing the City of Indianapolis, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, and Sheriff’s Van transport driver Deputy Erich Gephart after an accident in October 2012 claimed the life of Adam McCarty.

During a press conference Thursday at Bymaster Law, 4435 E. 650 S., in rural Boone County, Katheryn McCarty, Adam’s ex-wife and the mother of his two sons, and attorney John Bymaster announced their intent to sue for wrongful death.

Bymaster said Adam McCarty’s truck ran out of gas on the West 29th Street southbound I-65 on-ramp on Oct. 28, 2012. After pulling over, he said McCarty went to the back of his truck to retrieve a gas can.

He said Gephart approached the truck with “excessive speeds and without a proper lookout on the on-ramp.”

According to the lawsuit, that despite there being ample room to pass on the left side of the disabled vehicle, Gephart “…  negligently and recklessly approached and then impacted both McCarty and the disabled vehicle with enough force to throw him 40 feet from the point of impact and severely crush the front door and mirror of the disabled vehicle.”

Emergency crews arrived and McCarty was pronounced dead on the scene due to the extensive injuries sustained in the collision.

What outrages his family more, Bymaster said, was that the accident was preventable, because the warning signs were there.

According to the lawsuit, this was Gephart’s ninth accident while on the job. His eighth accident in November 2011, in which Gephart struck Charles Hill with his transport van in a very similar fashion, left Hill permanently disabled.

“Why would the city continue to hire Gephart and retain his employment after he permanently disabled a pedestrian while on duty driving his vehicle?” Bymaster said. “Charles Hill’s life changed forever, and his family’s life changed forever, but the city and Deputy Gephart just continues on like nothing happened.”

Katheryn McCarty said she doesn’t feel the city has handled the situation properly, which is one of the reasons for the lawsuit.

“It was more about how things were handled for us and how we found out about his death than anything else,” she said at the press conference. “Even now, trying to get information … (the city is) not willing to work with us. It seems they don’t realize that there’s a face behind what happened.”

Understandably, she said her family’s lives will never be the same.

“It’s changed our lives dramatically,” she said. “There isn’t a day that it’s not an issue for the children. We talk about it and it’s something that’s always on their mind and I guess you don’t understand it until you’re in that position to how it affects them.”

She added that it’s a tough situation to explain to her sons, who were 7 and 9 at the time of their father’s death.

“You don’t (explain it to them), it’s not like it was their pet or something,” she said. “It was someone who was their world to them. That’s their dad. It’s awful, there’s no easy way to do it.”

She too says she can’t understand why Gephart had continued to be employed.

“The fact that this is a city employee and that they’re standing behind him, and he was still employed after the first accident and looking at his driving record, it’s unbelievable that he was even a driver for the city,” she said. “It wasn’t even a private company. I don’t understand why he even had a position like that or that responsibility.”

Bymaster said they will be seeking damages to compensate for medical, funeral, and burial expenses, and lost earnings of Adam McCarty.

“We’ll also be exceeding the statutory limits (of $700,000) in this lawsuit, due to the circumstances and the questionable actions and the responses that we’ve received to this point in this matter,” he said.