Inattentive Driver Crashes into NIC Coaches
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A reckless crash left one local college basketball coach on a ventilator, put another in the hospital for several days with serious injuries, and inflicted minor injuries on a third. The men, from North Idaho College, were struck by an out-of-control driver as they waited for a tow truck on I-90. The crash that injured them mobilized their school community and left the men feeling lucky to be alive.
Five men associated with NIC’s basketball program, including the head coach, three assistant coaches, and the team’s radio play-by-play announcer, were traveling from Coeur d’Alene to Portland on a scouting trip early on the morning of September 22 when their car struck a deer. That crash totaled their rental car, but none of the men were injured.
The first crash happened about twenty miles southwest of Spokane on I-90 westbound. A tow truck had already arrived at the scene and had pulled up behind their disabled car toward the right shoulder. At that point, another vehicle, a jeep, came upon the accident scene and its driver, seeing the tow truck on the right, attempted to pass it . . . on the right shoulder. The jeep crashed into the men, who were standing on that same shoulder.
Worst-injured of the three was assistant coach George Swanson, who was apparently hit straight on. The impact shattered his pelvis and broke a leg and an arm. After time in intensive care, he was moved to a rehabilitation facility where he still remained in early November except for brief excursions.
Assistant coach Chris Kemp, who also spent a few days in intensive care, suffered a fractured vertebra and collarbone and will need knee surgery. The third assistant coach, Ameer Shamsuddin, was treated for a sprained foot and released. The other two men escaped injury, but only by a couple of feet as the jeep plowed past them.
The NIC community, Coeur d’Alene, and Spokane have all offered support for the injured men. The proceeds from an NIC volleyball game were donated to help cover medical bills, while the Spokane Teachers Credit Union set up an account in their name to receive donations. Dutch Bros. coffee shops in the area for a time donated $1 to the injured men for every cup of coffee sold.
The driver of the jeep was charged at the scene with inattentive driving. There’s been no word as to whether there were other contributing factors in the crash, such as operating under the influence. At the very least, this driver made more than one poor decision.
Reports all note that the tow truck was stopped on the right side of the highway with its flashers on. In that state, the tow truck and the initial accident scene should have been clearly visible, so the driver was not paying attention. It’s also been reported that the jeep’s driver “was unable to slow down,” which indicates to us that he was likely moving at a high rate of speed.
And then—perhaps most puzzling of all—when faced with the stopped tow truck in his path, the driver attempted to pass it on the shoulder. This series of poor decisions—speed, inattention, passing on the right—could have led to even more damage and injuries, and even death.
At Craig Swapp & Associates, we understand the practice of automobile accident law and we pay attention to the details. If you’ve been in a car crash, no matter what the specific circumstances, you should have an experienced team on your side to make sure you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. This case shows that there is more involved than a trip to the hospital or finding a replacement vehicle. The ongoing rehabilitation expenses for Coach Swanson, for example, are likely to be significant.
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