Wrongful death trial begins in Columbus 3 years after an East Ala. vehicle accident

Updated: Aug. 20, 2019 at 7:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A deadly East Alabama car accident is the focus of a wrongful death lawsuit in Columbus.

The actual complaint document filed for the wrongful death of Judy Madere is 30 pages long.

It states, each victim, including Madere, was a totally innocent victim who in no way contributed to causing the wreck or fatal injuries. The accident happened on Highway 80 in July 2016.

On Tuesday, a specialist, who reconstructed the accident scene, took the witness stand in the 2016 wrongful death lawsuit of Madere. Madere was sitting in the backseat of a sports utility vehicle when reports show it collided with a tractor trailer. All five passengers in the SUV died.

The truck driver, Kenneth Cathey, works for Schnitzer Steel Industries, Incorporated, based in Columbus, and is suspected of falling asleep at the wheel.

“He was not attentive to driving the vehicle five seconds before the accident," said accident reconstructionist G. Bryant Buchner. "He was not visualizing what was going on in front of the truck. He didn’t even execute a reflex reaction.”

Buchner testified that Cathey did not take any actions to avoid the accident. He also told the jury there is no evidence to show Cathey hit the brakes at all.

The plaintiff’s attorney, Brandon Peak, asked Buchner, “was Mr. Cathey on the phone?”

“No,” Buchner answered.

"Was he under the influence of alcohol or drugs?” Peak replied.

“No,” Buchner again stated.

Buchner said the force at the time of impact was half a million pounds. Madere, along with her twin sister, daughter and two grandchildren all passed away because of the accident.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said they’re hoping for relief and justice as well as unspecified damages for the wrongful death of their loved one.

Even though the accident happened in Alabama, the lawsuit was filed in Columbus because that’s where the trucking company is located.

Court is expected to resume Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

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