West Virginia woman sues police department over fatal crash

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FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia woman has filed a lawsuit against a police department, alleging officers were speeding in a department pickup truck when they fatally struck her husband’s car, a news outlet reported Monday.

Steve Santini, 72, was turning near his home July 10 when he was hit by a Dodge Ram owned by the Fairmont Police Department, according to the lawsuit filed by Emily Santini in Marion County Circuit Court.

The truck didn’t have its siren or lights activated at the time, and the officers inside weren’t answering an active emergency call, the police department said in a statement the day of the crash. Fairmont police said the truck “was not being operated at an extensive rate of speed” when the cars collided, but a crash reconstruction report prepared for an insurance company found the cruiser was going 73 mph (117 kph) in a 35-mph (56-mph) zone.

The crash would not have happened if the truck was going the speed limit, the reconstruction report, cited in the lawsuit, suggested. Fairmont police contended in its statement that Steve Santini’s truck may have failed to stop at a stop sign before turning into the truck’s path, though other witnesses disputed the claim, The Exponent Telegram reported.

The two patrol officers involved in the crash still work for the department, according to the suit. Fairmont Police Chief Steve Shine declined to comment on the litigation, the newspaper said.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for burial expenses loss of income and punitive damages and demands a jury trial.

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