Deputy's widow files suit over auto accident

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   The widow of a Carter County deputy sheriff has filed a lawsuit against a 71-year-old Butler man who was involved in an automobile accident with her late husband almost one year ago.
   Thelma Pearce of Elizabethton is seeking $100,000 in damages from Spencer E. Dowell of Johnson County for an accident that occurred on Dec. 13, 2002 involving her husband, Deputy Sgt. Donald Pearce.
   Donald Pearce was on duty in his police cruiser when he was struck by Dowell's vehicle at the intersection of Broad Street and U.S. Highway 19E on Dec. 13, 2002.
   According to a preliminary accident report of the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Pierce had the right of way and was struck when the vehicle driven by Dowell ran the red light at the intersection. After the two vehicles collided, Pearce's police cruiser was knocked into a Mazda pickup truck driven by Dennis Leonard of Hampton, according to the THP report.
   The lawsuit alleges Dowell was negligent in the accident by running the red light and traveling at an excess rate of speed when the accident occurred.
   Pearce did not sustain serious injuries in the accident, according to the police report.
   Donald Pearce died May 17, 2003 while on medical leave from the sheriff's department. The lawsuit seeks the $100,000 award for bodily injury, medical expenses and other damages sustained by Don Pearce in the accident. Thelma Pearce is listed as administratrix of her husband's estate. Attorney Bill Hampton of the Hampton & Street law firm filed the suit last week in Carter County Circuit Court.
   Also filed in Circuit Court last week was a lawsuit of an Elizabethton woman seeking damages against the construction company performing construction work to expand State Route 91.
   Ada J. Raleigh of Elizabethton is seeking $75,000 from Baker's Construction Company based in Bluff City.
   Raleigh's lawsuit states that she was driving her vehicle on Route 91 in Dec. 2002 near the intersection of Panhandle Road when her car slid on a portion of the roadway that was covered with ice. The lawsuit alleges Baker broke a water main while performing construction work on the highway. The water ran over the roadway causing ice to form and Raleigh's vehicle to slide, the suit alleges.
   Raleigh alleges the company was negligent in leaving the water line broken, not informing the proper water department of the break and not posting signs warning traffic. She seeks the $75,000 judgment and a jury to try her cause.
   Attorney Robert P. Starnes of the Wolfe, Williams & Rutherford firm in Norton, Va., filed the suit.