State transportation department blamed for interstate construction death

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 15, 2018

CHARLESTON — A lawsuit has been filed against the state Department of Transportation for the death of a man during construction on Interstate Highway 64.

Angela Meade Connelly filed the suit as administrator of the estate of Alexander Frank Scott Lawson, who was 29 when he died in April, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The suit names as defendants, HDR Engineering Inc., Highway Safety Inc., Kent C. McMillion, Method One Communications LLC, West Virginia Paving Inc., the West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways, and West Virginia Paving Inc. 

Connelly alleges Lawson was in the car with his roommate, Donovan Tyler Short, on April 24, when another vehicle struck Short's vehicle, causing Lawson's fatal injuries. Lawson died at the scene while Short, 19, the driver of the vehicle, died the day after the crash.

The suit says although Short had slowed down for the construction, McMillion, the driver in the vehicle behind Short and Lawson, did not, which caused the crash.

McMillion is the president of Method One Communications.

Connelly says the defendants had a duty to exercise due care in the construction zone.

There have been several accidents in the stretch of construction between Cabell and Putnam Counties, the suit alleges. Between April 20 and May 1, there were also two more accidents wherein a pregnant woman miscarried after being rear-ended, and a 38-year-old woman died when she was rear-ended in the same stretch of construction, according to the lawsuit.

All of the accidents between April 20 and May 1 occurred in the "zipper merge" zone, where one lane of traffic mergers into the other, the suit says. 

Connelly seeks compensatory damages and is represented by attorney Jeffrey S. Simpkins of Simpkins Law in Williamson.

The defendants are represented by attorneys Melvin F. O'Brien, Norman T. Daniels Jr. and Edgar Allen Poe Jr.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 18-C-835

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