ORRIN BROWN, 16, died of injuries sustained in a crash on Route 28 early Tuesday morning. Brown led police on a 10-mile chase that ended in his death at 4 a.m. The angry mother of the dead teen-ager said the policeman should not have been pursuing him.
State Trooper FRANK APPLELTON said he began following the driver of a blue van when it veered over the center line on Route 28 going about 45 mph, five mph below the speed limit. When he turned around and began following the van, the vehicle began to accelerate steadily with the officer in pursuit, Appleton said. The 10 mile chase ended on a hairpin curve near Millersville.
Police had placed tire-deflating devices on Route 28 just west of Millersville, but the van never reached the road block. The vehicle flipped over while negotiating a sharp curve, rolled over two or three times, hit a utility pole, and Brown was killed instantly. Police estimate his speed at the time of the crash at 55-60 mph. The boy was wearing a seat belt, according to police.
The chase angered the teenager’s mother. “I want to know why the police were chasing Orrin in the first place,” said ELAINE BROWN, 36. “They’re on that road every day, and they know it has a lot of bad curves. Once they had his license number, all they had to do was come to our house and wait for Orrin to come home. Instead they chased him to his death. The police killed my son as sure as if they’d shot him.”
Officer Frank Appleton said that State Police policy requires patrol cars to pursue any vehicle that appears to pose a risk to other drivers. “That van crossed the center line. When you see that, you immediately suspect a drunk driver. If we don’t pursue him and he kills someone, then the public wants to know why we didn’t get him off the roads.”
Neighbors of the dead youth said they weren’t surprised that he was out driving the family van at 4 a.m. on a school night. One neighbor who wished to remain anonymous said, “Elaine Brown doesn’t care about that kid. He’s been running loose since he was ten years old, but he’s not a bad kid. If she had exerted a little more discipline over him he’d still be alive today. What mother lets her 16-year-old stay out on a school night until 4 in the morning? And what was she doing letting him drive all over the place when he’d only gotten his driver’s license last week? That kid was an accident waiting to happen. They ought to throw the mother in jail.”
A spokesperson for The National Traffic Safety Board reported that nationally six other vans of the same model have flipped over in the past 12 months while negotiating a sharp curve and three other people have been killed in these accidents. When told of these statistics, Elaine Brown said that the MANUFACTURER OF THE VAN was as guilty of her son’s death as the police. “I’m going to get a good lawyer and sue them both,” Mrs. Brown said. “Someone’s going to pay for my son’s death.”
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Mrs. Brown sued the state police and the manufacturer of the van for $1,000,000. If you were on the jury, how much money (if any) would you award Mrs. Brown? Write in the spaces below the amounts (if any) you would require each of the defendants to pay Mrs. Brown. Be prepared to explain your decision.
--Skip Downing, Facilitator, On Course Workshop Skip@OnCourseWorkshop.com
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