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Family files lawsuit in death of 'Mr. Downtown'

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1 2013 5:19 p.m. MDT

Richard Wirick, pictured in this 2000 file photo, died in an auto pedestrian accident Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 in downtown Salt Lake City. Wirick had run the shoe store The Oxford Shop in downtown Salt Lake City for 50 years. The three children of Wirick have filed a lawsuit against the Utah Transit Authority and the bus driver accused of hitting and killing the 82-year-old man.

Jason Olson, Deseret News Archives

SALT LAKE CITY — The three children of prominent Salt Lake City businessman Richard Wirick have filed a lawsuit against the Utah Transit Authority and the bus driver accused of hitting and killing the 82-year-old man last year.

Wirick, known as "Mr Downtown" for the time he devoted to supporting the business community in downtown Salt Lake City, was hit and killed at the intersection of 400 South and 200 East on Feb. 21, 2012.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in 3rd District Court by Wirick's three sons and alleges negligence and wrongful death on the part of UTA and bus driver Cheryl Kidd.

Wirick was headed north on foot — apparently en route to a community service-related meeting — when the light changed from red to green for westbound traffic, but Wirick still had the right of way under state law, according to the lawsuit. No other vehicles were in front of Kidd, and she "had a clear view of the intersection" due to her elevated seat and wide windows.

The lawsuit alleges that Kidd, who was not transporting any passengers, struck Wirick while traveling between 27 mph and 29 mph and dragged him more than 40 feet before he was pinned under the bus.

"Ms. Kidd did not even begin to slow down until the bus hit Richard," the lawsuit states, noting at least one other driver stopped to allow Wirick to finish crossing.

Wirick apparently survived the crash, though the right side of his body was "crushed" and he suffered a number of broken bones and cuts. The lawsuit states he was trapped under the 26,000-pound bus for 40 minutes and was awake and conscious, though coughing up too much blood to be able to communicate.

Wirick was eventually freed but died the same day.

"According to the autopsy report, the case of (Wirick's) death was blunt force injuries to the head, torso and extremities," the lawsuit states. "Had Ms. Kidd been paying attention, (Wirick) probably would still be alive today."

Wirick's children state that though he was 82 at the time, Wirick had no plans to retire from his work owning and managing the Oxford Shop shoe store as he had for 60 years. He was also "in good health and was expected to live for many more years," the lawsuit states.

His death has deprived Wirick's sons of their close relationship with their father and has led to financial losses, as well as the loss of "intangible things like love, companionship … advice, care, protection and affection," according to the lawsuit.

Wirick's children say a Salt Lake City police investigation found that Kidd had an unobstructed view of the intersection and should have seen Wirick, as no environmental conditions were present that could have obstructed her view. The lawsuit states that Kidd was negligent and breached her duty of care, which also makes UTA liable for Wirick's death.

Wirick's children are asking for a jury trial where they will seek economic damages, reimbursement of costs and attorney's fees and any other relief as deemed appropriate.

Kidd, 50, was charged with negligent operation causing personal injury, a class B misdemeanor, and failing to yield the right of way at a marked or unmarked crossway, an infraction, in Salt Lake City Justice Court.

UTA spokesman Remi Barron said Thursday he could not comment on active litigation. Earlier this year, UTA officials said Kidd was initially placed on administrative leave and no longer works for the agency.

Kidd has a pretrial conference scheduled for Oct. 4.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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