Lawsuit seeks over $15 million in damages from I-77 pile-up

By Allen Worrell

April 3, 2014

The mother of a Kentucky man killed in the 95-vehicle pile-up on Interstate 77 in Fancy Gap last year is seeking $15 million in damages from three tractor-trailer drivers in a recently filed lawsuit.

Donna Gail Yates of Kentucky, the mother of the late William Mark Sosebee, has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Roanoke. In a complaint against Sylvain Turcotte, (a driver for Transport Bizz, Inc.), Carl Alvin McCormick, (a driver for the United Parcel Service, Inc.), and William K. Nemier, she seeks $15 million in compensation for the pain and suffering of her decedent prior to his death, and compensation for his lost earnings and other damages. The lawsuit was filed March 31, exactly one year to the date of the massive accident.

Dense fog was the cause of the tragic pile-up on I-77 in Fancy Gap last year on Easter Sunday that claimed the lives of three and injured 25 others. The pileup began at approximately 1 p.m. that day between mile markers 6 and 5 of the southbound lane of the interstate in Fancy Gap.

In total, 95 vehicles were involved in 17 separate accidents in the pile-up. All occurred in the southbound lanes of I-77 towards the base of Fancy Gap Mountain. Those killed that day were Sosebee, 33, of Allen, Ky.; Kathern Worley, 71, of Iron Station, N.C.; and Andrew Katbi, 24, of Delphos, Ohio.

Yates has filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Roanoke along with complainant Jarrod B. Smith, who was traveling in the southbound lane of I-77 in his automobile with Sosebee as a passenger, according to the complaint. At the same time and place, the lawsuit claims Turcotte, McCormick and Nemier were driving tractor-trailers.

“There was a dense fog on I-77, and traffic was stopped ahead of Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith was aware of several accidents in the area, and stopped in the left lane behind the vehicles that were stopped ahead of him,” the complaint states. “Within seconds after he stopped, Mr. Smith’s vehicle was struck from the rear in successive collisions, by the tractor-trailers driven by Defendants Turcotte, McCormick, and Nemier. Mr. Smith was severely injured by the impact of the collisions; Mr. Sosebee was severely injured by the impact of the collisions, and lived for a few minutes after being struck. He died shortly thereafter as a result of his injuries from multiple collisions.”

Smith is also seeking $1 million in compensatory damages in the law suit for his pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. The lawsuit alleges the three defendants “negligently drove their tractor-trailers which caused a wreck.” Yates and Smith also have demanded a jury trial in the complaint.

No charges were filed in any of the I-77 accidents on March 31, 2013 as the Virginia State Police deemed the pile-up “weather related” at the time.