The Salt Lake County attorney's office has rejected the third wrongful death claim from the fiery crash that killed three Alta High School students.
Survivors of Tom Duke, 18, were the most recent to file a claim against the county and allege there are design flaws on the section of Dimple Dell road where a Porsche sports car driven by a 16-year-old girl skidded and crashed into a concrete barrier Sept. 29, 1989. The car burst into flames and only the driver survived.The mother of one of the three passengers, Giobert Castaneda, 16, filed a similar claim one week ago and the County Commission already has rejected a claim filed earlier by the parents of Justin Brown, also 16.
"All three now have filed claims and they have all been rejected," said County Attorney David Yocom. "It's a fairly common allegation in a tragedy of this nature to allege problems with the road design."
"We deny the claim on the basis that the county's road design is not the proximate cause of the accident," he said. Police reports showed the vehicle was traveling at an excessive speed when it crashed and that the driver's blood-alcohol level was above the legal limit.
The survivors are required to file a claim against the county for damages before seeking a settlement in a lawsuit. Now that the claims have been denied, a lawsuit would be the next step in trying to recover money from the county, Yocom said. The claims total more than $1.25 million.
The driver has pleaded guilty in juvenile court to three counts of automobile homicide and has been sentenced to probation and 500 hours of community service.