Safety of Stockton Hill Road may be on trial

Daughter of killed pedestrian files notice of lawsuit

Attorneys contemplating a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Kingman and one of its employees contend the local government has been negligent in ensuring the reasonable safety of Stockton Hill Road. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

Attorneys contemplating a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Kingman and one of its employees contend the local government has been negligent in ensuring the reasonable safety of Stockton Hill Road. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

KINGMAN - A law firm representing the daughter of a woman who died after she was struck by a Kingman Fire Department pickup in July has put the city of Kingman on notice that litigation is pending.

The notice of claim, which seeks $1.5 million, is a precursor to the filing of a civil lawsuit. It names the city and Bill Johnston, a battalion commander who was driving the pickup on July 7.

According to reports at the time, Johnston had a green light when he made a left turn out of Kingman Regional Medical Center onto Stockton Hill Road at about 9:25 a.m. Emily Jeanne MacDonald, 75, was walking in the crosswalk east to west across Stockton Hill Road. She fell and hit her head after the impact and died of her injuries in a Las Vegas hospital shortly afterward.

The pedestrian light was reportedly red. Johnston immediately rendered medical help and the Kingman Police Department requested the Arizona Department of Public Safety conduct the investigation in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

That investigation has not been completed, according to DPS spokesman Bart Graves, who told the Miner that detectives with the department's accident reconstruction unit were still processing the facts and had not yet turned over the results.

Attorneys Bryan Schiller and Allen Bucknell of the Goldberg & Osborne law firm, which represent MacDonald's adult daughter Heather MacDonald, expressed frustration over the inability to obtain the accident report.

The lack of information, they wrote in their notice of claim, made it difficult to comply with state laws regarding such claims.

The notice alleges Johnston "acted negligently when he caused this collision by failing to control his vehicle and struck Emilie MacDonald resulting in her death."

While there is no evidence to support that particular allegation pending the outcome of the DPS investigation, the notice alleges the city is negligent for not doing more to make Stockton Hill Road safer.

The attorneys said the city has a duty to maintain roadways that are safe for motorists and pedestrians.

They note there is signage near the intersection that the area is a high accident area - and that the sign is only posted on the northbound lane, but not the southbound.

Placing the sign, they argue, "fails to adequately warn motorists and pedestrians approaching the dangerous intersection."

Moreover, the attorneys charge the city was negligent in how the road was designed, constructed and maintained and that the city failed to correct the "known deficiencies" of the road.

The City Council in 2013 commissioned a study of Stockton Hill Road, which resulted in a finding that the road is risky for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and people in motorized carts. The area where MacDonald was struck was specifically mentioned as perhaps the most dangerous stretch of Kingman's busy commercial corridor.

MacDonald suffered fatal head injuries and the unavailability of a neurosurgeon in Kingman caused her to be flown to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas.

While sufficient time has passed for Heather MacDonald's attorneys to file a civil lawsuit, it is unlikely one could be filed before the DPS investigation is complete.

City Attorney Carl Cooper could not comment on the claim due to the likelihood of litigation. Repeated calls to Goldberg & Osborne were not returned.