Cops Let Driver Go. 90 Minutes Later, a Fatal Crash: Legal Docs

Tort claim says police were negligent in letting driver go
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2018 4:43 PM CST
Cops Let Driver Go. 90 Minutes Later, a Fatal Crash: Legal Docs
Tron Gorbonosenko   (LaPorte County Sheriff's Office)

A witness called 911 on Oct. 6 after seeing Tron Gorbonosenko allegedly crash his Ford Mustang into a parked car and utility pole, confronting him after he left the vehicle, and smelling alcohol on his breath. Three police officers came to the Indiana scene, and the witness told them it appeared Gorbonosenko's car had also been driven into a ditch. Little more than an hour and a half after that 911 call, police were again dispatched—this time to the scene of a fatal crash. Gorbonosenko's Mustang had crashed into a minivan driven by Donald and Angela Kaczmarek. (The Mustang crossed the centerline, according to a report at the time.) The couple was killed in the crash; 40-year-old Gorbonosenko, an off-duty paramedic, was critically injured but survived. Now, a tort claim filed by the law office representing the Kaczmarek family says police were negligent in letting Gorbonosenko go when they initially encountered him.

According to the claim, which estimates $700,000 in damages is due to the Kaczmareks' estate and indicates a civil lawsuit may be coming, the officers did not ask to see Gorbonosenko's license, did not conduct field sobriety tests, and did not take his keys or his car. It also alleges the officers opened the doors of the car to inspect it, and notes that empty alcohol bottles were later found on the vehicle's floor. The Herald-Argus, upon learning of the claim, requested a copy of the police report related to the officers' initial interaction with Gorbonosenko—and was told there wasn't one. Gorbonosenko, who was allegedly found to have a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit at 0.17 after the fatal crash, faces multiple felony charges that could lead to as many as 36 years behind bars and fines of as much as $40,000. (Read more drunk driving stories.)

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