Hurricane, former officer sued for 2009 hit-and-run

By Lawrence Smith | Mar 16, 2011

CHARLESTON – Three Charleston women are suing a former Hurricane police officer for injuries they sustained from a 2009 hit-and-run incident.

Chad Runyan is named as a co-defendant in separate lawsuits filed by Jalisa Straughter, Altavese Duncan and Jedawn Edgerton in Kanawha Circuit Court. In their respective complaints filed March 3 and 8, Straughter, 21, Duncan, 22 and Edgerton, 21, say they suffered physical, and emotional injuries when Runyan, 38, while driving a city of Hurricane police cruiser on Interstate 64, failed to render them assistance after colliding with their vehicle, and causing it to overturn.

The city of Hurricane is named as a co-defendant in the suits.

According to the suits, Straughter, Duncan and Edgerton on March 8, 2009, were traveling eastbound on I- 64 in a 1992 Toyota Camry. Edgerton was driving the vehicle, and Straughter and Duncan were passengers.

About 5:53 p.m. as they approached the Teays Valley exit, they were struck from behind by a 2007 Crown Victoria driven by Runyan. Though he was driving a Hurricane police cruiser, Runyan was off-duty at the time.

According to a criminal complaint filed against Runyan in Putnam Circuit Court shortly after the accident, the force of the collision caused the Camry to crash into the barrier, roll over and come to rest in the median. Instead of stopping and rendering them aid, the complaint says Runyan continued eastbound on I-64 before taking the Scott Depot exit.

About a month following the accident, Runyan was arrested and charged with fleeing the scene of an accident causing injuries, and failing to maintain control of a vehicle, both misdemeanors. Prior to being charged, he tendered his resignation from the police department.

At a July 28, 2009, bench trial, Magistrate Kim Blair found Runyan guilty on the leaving the scene charge but not guilty of the failing to maintain charge. She sentenced him to 18 months unsupervised probation, and ordered him to pay $159.53 in court costs.

Though Runyan appealed his conviction to Putnam Circuit Court, Judge O.C. "Hobby" Spaulding upheld his conviction following a Sept. 25 bench trial.

In their suit, Straughter and Duncan maintain as a result of the encounter with Runyan they've "suffered great pain of body and mind," and incurred, to date, direct medical expenses of $15,785.76, and $24,453.76, respectively. In her suit, Edgerton says she, too, has not only incurred medical expenses, but also "lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience and the loss of ability to enjoy life."

All three seek unspecified damages, interest, court costs and attorney fees. Straughter and Duncan, and Edgerton are represented by Charleston attorneys Michael A. Turkaly, and R. Michael Martin, respectively.

The cases are assigned to judges Carrie Webster and Tod J. Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court, case numbers 11-C-361 (Straughter and Duncan) and 390 (Edgerton)

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