Elise Endicott-Hunt of Liam Injured In Canandaigua Police Chase Accident With Stolen Cattle Truck Near North Pearl Street and West Gibson Street
ONTARIO COUNTY, NEW YORK (September 15, 2021) – A woman identified as Elise Endicott-Hunt was injured in a car accident after a police chase involving a red truck with a cattle trailer by North Pearl Street and West Gibson Street.
Ontario County police officials are saying that the accident took place around 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. The co-owner of a Livingston County dairy farm became aware that a suspicious male left their property with a truck.
Law enforcement spotted the truck around Hopkins road, but the driver of the stolen truck refused to pull over. Officers engaged in a police pursuit which ended shortly after the cattle truck collided with a Jeep driven by Elise Endicott-Hunt.
The force of the impact caused the Jeep to then hit a tree. Officers said that the suspect rear-ended another car before hitting a utility pole. That driver attempted to run but was later captured not far from Canandaigua Primary School. By the time the chase ended the suspect allegedly reached speeds of 60 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Paramedics were called to the scene of the collision and were able to extricate Elise Endicott-Hunt. She was taken to the hospital with serious injuries and remains in stable condition.
Liability In Canandaigua Police Chase Accidents
Police pursuits can be incredibly dangerous and have resulted in over 12,000 deaths over the last 35 years. More tragic still, a large portion of these deaths involved innocent bystanders. Many of these chases were also for petty offenses. Police departments have often been intransigent about their desire to engage in high speed chases. But attitudes have shifted over the years. Now, many police departments across the country have regulations with respect to when a police chase may begin and when it should be terminated. Factors that will influence when a police chase should begin or end will include:
- The risk to the community posed by the pursuit
- The crime the suspect is wanted for
- The area of the pursuit
- Weather conditions
- Environmental factors
Many police departments in New York have policies that limit the use of high speed chases to two scenarios: (1) situations where the life or safety of any person is in imminent danger or (2) a person is suspected of having committed a violent felony. As such, police chases should typically be a measure of last resort. They should not be used to apprehend suspects for low-level offenses.
According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 1104(e), the drivers of authorized emergency vehicles have a duty to operate their vehicle with due regard for the safety of all persons. When an officer shows a “reckless disregard” for the safety of others they could be liable for an accident during a police pursuit. The New York Court of Appeals held that officers show “reckless disregard” when they consciously disregard a known grave risk, which was likely to result in harm to others.
Consider, for example, the case of Palella v. State. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York held that “The reasonableness of the officer’s conduct must be gauged as of the time and under the circumstances in which he acted, not in retrospect.” A high speed pursuit on a relatively empty street may not constitute a grave risk to the public. A high speed pursuit under conditions of heavy traffic and inclement weather next to a school could pose a grave risk to the public. The nature of a suspect’s crime will also be taken into consideration. Victims of police pursuits tend to suffer very serious and costly injuries including:
- Broken bones
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Organ damage
As a common law rule, the owner of a stolen vehicle is not liable when that vehicle is involved in a collision. But New York has a noteworthy exception to this rule. According to New York’s Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1210, drivers may be liable for an accident involving their stolen vehicle if that driver left their keys in the ignition. An unattended, running car with keys in the ignition makes it an attractive target for thieves and opens the owner to a potential negligence claim. If the negligent driver was operating a company vehicle, the company that owned that vehicle could potentially be liable as well.
Any person that is injured in a police pursuit accident may be able to seek damages through a bodily injury claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. Many victims may not fully realize the extent of their injuries until some weeks or months after an accident. It is important to continue to seek treatment. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney is also wise. An attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are. Some victims of police pursuits may be entitled to significant financial compensation.
Investigating A Canandaigua Police Chase Accident
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our best wishes to Elise Endicott-Hunt as she continues to recover. Any person that may have information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is deeply concerning that officers were allegedly pursuing the suspect at high speeds, through a residential area and right next to a school.
There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened for the sake of the victim. Police pursuits carry an enormously high risk to the public and should always be treated as a measure of last resort. Did Canandaigua police officers follow their own department’s pursuit policies prior to this collision? This is one of many questions that needs to be answered. Transparency and accountability are desperately needed after this collision.