Suit claims Ashland emergency responder injured due to failure to slow to safe speed
By Stephen Floyd
Two local first responders have filed a $760,000 wrongful injury lawsuit after being struck by a vehicle in a chain collision during a medical response on Interstate 5 on the Fourth of July last year.
Kelly Burns, a paramedic and battalion chief with the Ashland Fire Department, and Billie Granish, a paramedic with Mercy Flights, filed suit Sept. 23 in Jackson County Circuit Court against Lauren Elizabeth Hill, of Ashland, and Raul Alonzo Avina Terriquez, of Central Point, for an incident on July 4, 2021.
Police and medical crews were responding that night to a vehicle rollover on I-5 near Exit 27 south of Medford and had closed the right lane, with traffic being guided into the left lane by emergency vehicle lights and warning signs. The lawsuit claims, though vehicles driven by Hill and Avina Terriquez entered the left lane as instructed, they did so at unsafe speeds of between 45 and 60 mph, according to witnesses.
Hill, driving a Mercedes SUV, suddenly slammed on her brakes, the lawsuit claimed, resulting in Terriquez, in a Chevrolet pickup, striking the back of the Mercedes. Hill’s vehicle then allegedly entered the right lane and struck the back of a Mercy Flights ambulance, which then struck Burns and Granish as they were carrying one of two patients from the rolled vehicle, resulting in injuries to the paramedics and the patient.
This second collision resulted in the complete closure of I-5 until the scene could be cleared.
Both Burns and Granish were hospitalized with minor injuries and released later that night, according to a news release from the city of Ashland. In the release, Ashland Fire Chief Ralph Sartain said it was miraculous the situation had not been more tragic and encouraged motorists to pay closer attention and slow down when they see emergency vehicles on roadways.
The suit claims Hill and Terriquez were negligent in operating their vehicles at speeds too high for the road conditions, in failing to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles or first responders, and failing to safely slow down.
The lawsuit said Burns has since incurred $39,873 in medical bills with an expected $50,000 in costs, while Granish has incurred $15,310 in medical bills with a further $50,000 in expected costs. The two plaintiffs has since suffered chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety and sleeplessness and are requesting $250,000 in non-economic damages.
Burns also suffered lost income and decreased earning potential and is seeking $105,000 in economic damages.
They are seeking a total of $760,183, as well as court costs and any other damages deemed appropriate by the court. Plaintiffs are represented by Medford attorneys Tom Petersen and Andrew Wilson, of law firm Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens.
The case had yet to be assigned to a judge as of Oct. 4. Court records showed Avina Terriquez was served with notice of the suit Sept. 26, while notice to Hill was still pending.
Oct. 9 update: Name of one of the plaintiffs corrected in detail of medical expenses and lost income.