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Kern County will be paying approximately $2.3 Million of the $8.8 million settlement that is going to the families of the two people that were killed when a Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy’s car hit them while they were crossing the Norris Road in December 2011.
Supervisor Leticia Perez Stated:
This was a tragic accident that took the lives of two people. The settlement will avoid a trial, which, in this case, is appropriate.
The two cases were resolved for $4.8 Million to the family of Daniel Hiler and $4 million to the family of Chrystal Jolley. Of course the county’s insurance company will pay the remaining $6.5 million.
Daniel was only twenty-four years old and Chrystal was only thirty years old. They were pushing an inoperable motorcycle across Norris Road on December 16, 2011 when Deputy John Swearengin who is 36 years old hit them with his patrol car.
John was traveling more than 80 mph in a 45 mph zone. He did not have any of his emergency lights or sirens on, according to the CHP Investigation. The settlement awarded to the families were to provide income replacement and other compensation for the families of the victims.
Kern County Counsel Theresa Goldner stated:
Almost all of the money paid to the plaintiffs will be placed into a structured settlement and be paid out in monthly payments and occasional lump sum payments throughout the children’s lives.
According to the Jolley family lawyer, Thomas Brill, almost all of the $4 million settlement will be placed in a trust for her children until they are 18 years old. The settlement was to help avoid the long emotionally draining of a court battle for the children.
Chief Deputy County Counsel, Mark Nations said that there were now disputes about the speed Swearengin was traveling. There was also no disputes about fact that he was trying to get authorization to turn on his emergency lights and sirens as he rushed to respond to a report of a stolen vehicle, because Kern County does not require authorization.
They were not pedestrians. They should have never been on that road that night. They were dressed all in black. There were no reflectors on the motorcycle. It was not street legal.
Both Hiler and Jolley were intoxicated at the time of the accident. Hiler’s blood content was .127 and Jolley’s was .235 which is more than 2 times the legal limit to drive a car.
Even though the Hiler and Jolley settlements are closed, the criminal case against deputy Swearengin is ongoing. The day before the civil settlement was announced deputy Swearengin had rejected a plea deal and a two-year jail sentence. He wants to fight in court the two charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence he faces.
Daniel A. Gibalevich
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