Dillon Cleared in Fire Truck Accident Lawsuit, Driver of SUV Found Culpable
Rocky Mount, VA - A jury has cleared former Rocky Mount Volunteer Fire Chief, Posey Dillon, while finding the woman who hit Dillon's fire truck negligent in an accident that killed Dillon and firefighter, Danny Altice.
Teri Anne Valentine has been ordered to pay the Altice's funeral costs of nearly $10,000.
In July of 2010 Dillon and Altice were killed after an SUV driven by Valentine collided with their fire truck causing it to roll three times.
The fire truck was hit in a busy intersection when the two firefighters were on the way to a call of a man trapped in a burning house.
Altice's estate sued Valentine and the estate of Dillon, who was driving the fire truck that day. His long time friend, Altice, was the passenger.
The jury received final instructions about 2 p.m. before the court broke for lunch and the ensuing deliberations.
The plaintiff's attorney, representing the Altice estate, maintained both were culpable claiming Dillon was speeding and Valentine ignored the clear warnings of the oncoming emergency vehicle.
Every witness to the wreck, except Valentine, stated they saw and heard Dillon's fire truck for more than a quarter mile before it entered the intersection of the Franklin Turnpike with School Board Road.
The plaintiffs argued that Dillon was culpable even though several witnesses said Dillon slowed before entering the intersection. The plaintiff's attorney produced a picture showing long skid marks, left by the fire engine, between impact and when the vehicle flipped.
The plaintiffs said this trial was about accountability.
"And that's the hardest point for this community because this was preventable. It was avoidable and it was preventable and we shouldn't be here but we are because of the failure to accept responsibility," said the plaintiff's Lawyer, Tony Russell.
After the trial Valentine left the court with no comment. Dillon's tearful widow, Ann, declined an interview saying she "wasn't ready" and then stepped away to a tearful procession of well wishers.
Danny Altice's family also declined to comment. A lawyer representing them said she is planning post trial motions to be filed within a two week range set by the judge at the end of the trial.