CHARLESTON - A Kanawha County man has filed a suit against Winfield High School's girls basketball coach who hit and killed a woman in South Charleston.

Roger Lee Clark filed the suit April 17 in Kanawha Circuit Court, on behalf of the estate of Ruby E. Clark, who died while attempting to cross a road in South Charleston.

The suit names Paul Sutherland, the man who allegedly hit Clark, and the City of South Charleston, as defendants. Sutherland is Winfield's girls basketball coach, but he is not a teacher at the school.

According to the suit, Ruby Clark attempted to cross MacCorkle Avenue at the intersection of MacCorkle and Ashby Street in South Charleston on March 14, 2007. It was during the boys state basketball tournament.

Clark, an elderly woman, was leaving the Dollar General Store on Seventh Avenue in South Charleston about 5:30 p.m. that day with a bag full of toiletry items when she attempted to cross MacCorkle Avenue near the Mound.

The suit says the pedestrian push button located at the southeast corner of the intersection was not operational, and that Clark looked both ways before crossing the road at the designated crossing area.

"While Ms. Clark was attempting to cross MacCorkle Avenue, within a designated crossing area of the intersection, a vehicle traveling west on MacCorkle Avenue and driven by Sutherland proceeded through the intersection, striking Ruby Clark," the suit says.

Clark was taken to the hospital where she died of her injuries, the suit says. Shortly after the accident, police ruled Sutherland was not at fault.

"There was nothing (the driver) could have done to avoid her," South Charleston Police Cpl. F.S. Beane told the Charleston Daily Mail.

Roger Clark claims Sutherland owed the public a duty to operate his vehicle with due care, maintain a proper lookout and to yield the right of way to pedestrians.

"It's just a tragic thing," Sutherland told the Daily Mail after the accident. "I tried (to avoid her). I'm just having a hard time dealing with it."

The suit also says South Charleston has a duty to inspect, maintain and repair crosswalk areas and pedestrian push buttons.

Clark seeks compensatory damages for the sorrow, mental anguish and solace suffered by Ruby Clark, as well as the compensation for the loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, common offices, and advice of Clark, suffered by her beneficiaries.

Attorney Robert D. Cline, Jr. is representing Clark. The case has been assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey Walker.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-743




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