Albany and Dougherty Co. notified about Klewitz lawsuit - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Albany and Dougherty Co. notified about Klewitz lawsuit

December 14, 2007

Albany-  A lawsuit will be filed in the death of Billy Klewitz, the young Lee County man killed in a police chase crash.

The family of the 21 year old Klewitz says Albany drug officer Corporal Gary Price was grossly negligent in continuing to chase a drug suspect into Lee County. The chase reached speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour and ended when the suspect crashed head on into Klewitz.

Five months to the day that Winn-Dixie employee Billy Klewitz was killed, Albany and Dougherty County were given notice that they're being sued. No amount of money can bring Klewitz back, but his lawyers say a lawsuit will hold the city and county accountable.

"There needs to be some questions answered. As Mr. Klewitz previously said he just wants to know why and he wants this stopped and he wants to have his day in court," said Attorney Patrick Eidson.

The letter is required to put both on notice and must spell out who was involved, why legal action is being considered, and how much in damages is requested.

"We're putting them on notice that it involves the high speed chase, the gross negligence of the officer, violating both standard police high speed chase as well as the standards provided by both the city and the county and it involves of course the estate of young Mr. Klewitz," said Eidson.

The letter mentions Corporal Gary Price claiming he was grossly negligent for continuing to chase Bobby Jones at speeds of more than 90 miles per hour, more than the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit initially disclosed. The suit was also considered after Price was recently involved in another chase and crash with a pregnant woman along Highway 91.

"This same officer in fact was involved with another high speed chase, he's not been reprimanded or anything, he's been put back out on the road, and put back in the same position," said Eidson.

The city and county have 30 days to consider the claim, a settlement is set at the county's liability of one million dollars and the city's liability of $250,000 dollars. So far, neither has responded. Lawyer Patrick Eidson says they have two years to file a lawsuit, but won't wait that long and will likely file after the first of the year.

When we asked for a response from the city, county, and ADDU we were told they couldn't respond to the letter because of pending litigation.

The investigation into that fatal crash is in the final stages.

The Georgia State Patrol Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team says the report is complete and is awaiting supervisory approval before it's made public. Preliminary reports from the team reveal Bobby Jones was going about 98 miles per hour as he hit Klewitz's head on. The average speed during the chase for both Jones and Price was 96 miles per hour. Initially, drug unit supervisors claimed Price never exceeded 60 miles per hour.

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