Accident victims file $58.5 million in claims against county

Attorneys representing five victims of a high-speed crash in the Arizona Strip that killed two people in May filed have claims totaling $58.5 million against Mohave County government and other entities.

The attorneys allege that law enforcement officers threatened public safety by pursuing motorist Clark Rocker Ford, 28, of Layton, Utah, on May 25.

Ford drove the wrong way while fleeing police on Interstate 15 near Littlefield and hit two vehicles head-on, killing himself and another man, and injuring three people, Nevada police told the Associated Press following the accident.

"Instead of aborting the chase at the Arizona state line, Arizona law enforcement authorities were indifferent to the obvious dangers inherit in continuing the chase and made a deliberate decision to press the chase into Arizona (from Nevada)," Phoenix attorney Mark D.

Samson wrote in the claims for his four clients.

He is representing Christopher Gish, 20, of Highland, Colo.; Gish's sister, Alexandra, 24, of Highland; Alexandra's fiance, Curtiss Goodiel, 23, of Highland; and the family of Justin Harbottle, a 22-year-old resident of Englewood, Colo., who died in the crash.

Goodiel drove the Ford Expedition.

Another Phoenix attorney, David Thomson, is representing Illona Stuehser, 60, of St.

George, Utah, who was driving a Honda Accord that was struck by Ford's sport-utility vehicle.

The county referred the claims to the Arizona Counties Insurance Pool, county Risk Manager Dean Beyer said.

Bill Hardy, executive director of the insurance pool, could not be reached for comment.

"If they don't take an action on it within 60 days, it is deemed denied," Samson said.

"That is always up to the defendants.

It's a pretty straightforward case.

There's nothing that mysterious in it."

Samson's claims seek $30 million for the family of Harbottle, $20 million for Christopher Gish, $3 million for Alexandra Gish and $2.5 million for Goodiel.

Thomson seeks $3 million for Stuehser.

Their claims name Mohave County, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office, the state of Arizona, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, MCSO Sheriff's Deputy Michael K.

Hoggard, who is based in a substation in the Arizona Strip, and John Does one to five, who represent DPS and MCSO.

According to the Associated Press account following the accident, the pursuit began after police in Mesquite, Nev., received a report of a man, later identified as Ford, driving his SUV on a golf course.

Nevada Highway Patrol officers pulled him over and he displayed a passport and sped off.

The chase reached speeds exceeding 110 mph and covered 32 miles on northbound 1-15, according to AP.

MCSO joined the pursuit in Arizona and threw road spikes on the highway, which Ford tried to avoid by crossing the median.

He then drove 10 miles the wrong way northbound before striking the vehicle driven by Stuehser.