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Two Dead Following High-Speed Chase: Were Police Negligent?

Two Atlanta-area people, who were on their way to a birthday party, are dead following a high-speed police chase.

On November 13, 2013, Georgia State Patrol officers began pursuing 38-year-old Timothy Rutland, who was wanted for questioning in an earlier hit-and-run accident in Tiff County. The chase ended when Mr. Rutland ran a stop sign at the corner of Enigma Road and Highway 125, striking an SUV and killing 23-year-old Matthew Dean Horton and 32-year-old Kelly Marie Prescott.

Witnesses said they heard an “explosion…like two trains colliding.” Mr. Horton and Ms. Prescott were pronounced dead at the scene; several other injured victims were rushed to area hospitals.

A spokesperson for the Tiff County Sherriff’s Office expressed sympathy for the victims and their families while vowing to “see if there’s something we would do different[ly]” next time.

High-speed police chases too often end in fatalities

Nationwide, more than 300 people die every year as the result of a high-speed chase, and more than 10,000 people are injured:

  • According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, most suspects would stop running if the police stopped the pursuit, which means that such chases are both reckless and unnecessary.
  • The officers’ safety is also significantly at risk, as high-speed chase deaths are a significant cause of police deaths in the line of duty.

Many law enforcement agencies have policies and procedures in place to prevent incidents like the one involving Mr. Horton and Ms. Prescott. Because the police probably already had Mr. Rutland’s address, a high-speed chase through a populated area seemed ill-advised. Where there is risk and foreseeability, there may be liability for damages, yet many Georgia courts still refuse to hear these cases.

If you or a loved one was the innocent victim of a accident caused during a high-speed chase, contact an Atlanta attorney who is personally invested in your success for your free consultation.