Utah Company Named in Suit Over Deadly Crash

Utah Company Named in Suit Over Deadly Crash

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BUTLER, Pa. (AP) -- Relatives of a North Carolina family killed in a fiery wreck two years ago are suing the Utah trucker charged with causing the crash, his company, PennDOT and DaimlerChrysler Corp.

The family's car struck the fuel tank of a truck driven by Ejub Grcic, triggering an explosion that ignited both vehicles at a Slippery Rock Township intersection on July 7, 2003.

Janet Kerr, 35, along with her three children, Kathleen A. Kerr, 13; Kenneth E. Kerr III, 4; and Alessandra S. Hall, 16, died at the scene. The driver, Janet Kerr's husband Kenneth E. Kerr Jr., 35, died a day later in the hospital. The family, from Wilson's Mills, was visiting relatives in Butler County.

"We're forever wounded and we're just taking the course of action that we think we should be taking," Cathy Kerr, mother of Kenneth Kerr Jr., said Monday. She and her husband, Kenneth Kerr Sr., filed the suit Friday in Butler County court.

Police said Grcic, a Bosnian immigrant who lives in West Valley, Utah, was driving a rig six tons too heavy for the road's 10-ton limit and ran a stop sign. The crash happened about 45 miles north of Pittsburgh. Grcic, 56, is awaiting trial on five counts of vehicular homicide and other charges.

A lawyer who has represented Grcic was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

Police said Grcic could not communicate in English and should not have been allowed to drive a commercial vehicle. Grcic came to the United States in 1998, four years after he fled his native Bosnia and went to Germany. He spent 20 years in Europe as a commercial trucker before he was issued a commercial trucker's license in Utah.

The suit claims that the 2003 Dodge Neon had a faulty fuel system that helped cause the car to burst into flames. DaimlerChrysler Corp. declined comment.

The suit said PennDOT allowed plants to block views at the intersection and failed to ensure that the stop sign was visible and the road was marked with a stop line. PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said he could not comment on litigation.

After the crash, PennDOT later added pavements markings and reflectors around the intersection.

Grcic's employer was named because it the company allegedly allowed him to drive knowing that he did not speak English. A listed phone number for the company, E. H. Transportation of Valley City, Utah, could not be located.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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