Civil case will continue against Northport DUI suspect who passe - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Civil case will continue against Northport DUI suspect who passed away this week

Danny Ray Smith. Source: Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Danny Ray Smith. Source: Tuscaloosa County Sheriff
TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

As FOX6 first reported, the defendant in a fatal Tuscaloosa air show crash passed away on Monday. So what happens to his case?

Danny Ray Smith was accused of running over and killing 8-year-old Haylee Burks and injuring a handful of her family members at the Tuscaloosa Air Show in 2012. Police say Smith was under the influence at the time. In January 2014, Smith was rearrested on another DUI charge. Shortly after his arrest, he fell into a coma and died Monday under hospice care.

"Doctors can't tell us exactly what he had," Bob Prince, Smith's attorney said. "So the jury is still out on that. But we've asked for an autopsy. So we'll figure it out."

Smith was facing wrongful death lawsuits related to the Tuscaloosa air show crash and a lawsuit to get insurance coverage for his businesses when he died Monday. Prince tells FOX6 a personal representative will now have to be appointed to replace Smith in the lawsuits.

John Owens, who represents the Burks family, says their case against Smith was moving in the direction they wanted it to until Smith passed away.

"We think that it would have been appropriate for Mr. Smith to have to face what he did," Owens said.

Owens said now things will shift to civil court and that could take a while.

"As long as its still pending, it brings back memories that you would like to start putting in the past. Not that anybody ever gets over the death of a child. They don't," Owens said.

Prince tells FOX6, despite Smith's unfortunate passing, he will continue to vigoursly defend Smith's actions even after his death.

"At the time he was having some dementia...in other words he was having health problems," Prince said. "There's no question he was drinking, but I'm not prepared to trust the machine saying that he was a one-three or whatever. A lot of times those machines don't read accurately."

FOX6 has learned some of the defense attorneys have filed a "suggestion of death" which calls Smith's death to the attention of the court for the record. We're told it also means attorneys want to speed up the case by doing it.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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