Lawsuit Filed In Fatal Traffic Accident

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The daughter of a Guysville man killed in a wreck in 2014 has filed a lawsuit in Athens County Common Pleas Court against the driver of a pickup truck at the scene of the crash.

Kurt Raschke, 69, was killed when his car was involved in a head-on collision on Athens County Road 33A (Old Route 33) on Jan. 16, 2014.

His daughter, Justine Beecher of Plain City, filed the lawsuit on behalf of herself and her father’s estate against John Ervin of 7599 N. Blackburn Rd., Athens. The court case seeks in excess of $25,000.

Ervin was not the driver of the sport utility vehicle that collided with Raschke’s car.

The State Highway Patrol report of the accident states the Ronald Hedrick of Shade was towing a log splitter when he drove off the right side of the road, over-corrected and lost control of the SUV. According to the patrol’s report, the log splitter separated from the SUV and Hedrick’s vehicle slid left of center and collided with Raschke’s car.

Beecher’s lawsuit asserts that Ervin, who was driving the same direction as her father, “negligently operated” his pickup truck, going left of center and causing an oncoming vehicle to strike her father’s car. The lawsuit does not mention Hedrick by name.

The lawsuit states that Beecher continues to suffer the loss of the “affection, love, assistance and fellowship” of her father.

During its investigation, the patrol took statements from Hedrick, Ervin, a passenger in Ervin’s pickup truck and another witness. Troopers wrote out the statements and they were signed by those interviewed.

According to Ervin’s statement, he told a trooper that he did not go left of center, and that he saw the SUV drifting left and saw the driver jerk the steering wheel. Asked if he was distracted in any way at the time of the accident, Evin told the trooper he was not.

Ervin’s passenger told the patrol that he and Ervin were looking out the left driver’s side glass at a cornfield and discussing whether there might be deer in it, and that he felt the pickup truck jerk to the right, according to the statement.

The passenger’s statement asserts that Ervin said “f**k, f**k, f**k I just made those people wreck.” The passenger also told the patrol that Ervin told him later that if he was 100 percent sure he went left of center he would tell the patrol, according to the statement.

Hedrick told the patrol that he hit the brakes and swerved toward the guardrail when he saw a truck “coming across the center,” according to his statement to the patrol.

Another witness gave a statement in which she said both the SUV and truck were traveling close to the yellow line, but that she didn’t think the truck was on the wrong side of the road. She told the trooper that the driver of the SUV told her at the scene that he thought the truck was on his side of the road and that’s why he jerked the wheel, according to her statement.

No charges were filed in court by the patrol as a result of the accident, although Patrol Lt. George Harlow told The Messenger the case was reviewed by the Athens City Prosecutor’s Office. Harlow said there was no physical evidence to prove Ervin went left of center.