Possible lawsuit coming after fatal crash into Saugatuck River
Updated 5:37 pm, Friday, June 9, 2017
WESTPORT — An attorney for the family involved in a fatal winter crash into the Saugatuck River has filed a notice keeping a possible lawsuit against the town on the table.
Richard La Mendola died in the Feb. 25 incident and his wife, Stephanie, was rescued from the water, after their 2016 BMW — driven by Richard — navigated into the icy waters of the Saugatuck River on a dark and rainy night. They entered the river from the Saugatuck boat launch off Saxon Lane.
The filing — written by the family’s attorney, Stephen Finn — notes the investigation into the cause has not been completed and in the case it is determined that the injuries were caused by a defective highway, bridge or sidewalk; or caused by negligence of town employees, departments or other entities, they reserve the right to sue the town.
Finn did not return requests seeking comment.
In the crash report, Sean Kelley, of the Westport Police Department, who was positioned on the Bridge Street Bridge and saw Stephanie floating in the river, wrote that Stephanie told him Richard was the operator of the car, that he made a wrong turn and the couple was confused. It added that Stephanie “did not know how they went into the water” and they could not see “due to heavy rain.”
Kelley’s report, from Stephanie’s account, continues saying she remembered the car being submerged and unable to open the passenger door, she exited out of the driver’s side. Stephanie saw Richard go under water and never saw him come back up.
The report states that Richard was recovered unresponsive near the Bridge Street Bridge and was pronounced dead at Norwalk Hospital. Stephanie was also taken to Norwalk Hospital and survived.
The Connecticut State Medical Examiner ruled the cause of Richard’s as drowning. Westport police also have said they don’t believe there to be any foul play involved.