published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Family files wrongful death suit against Varnell, Ga.

The family of a Cohutta man killed in a fiery crash with a police officer in early March has filed a lawsuit against Varnell, claiming the officer that hit the 70-year-old man was driving more than 90 mph.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Whitfield County Superior Court, where Leon Thurman’s family is asking for up to $750,000 in damages.

Thurman’s son, Michael, said the amount was chosen because it’s the limit the city of Varnell’s insurance will pay in a lawsuit.

An Georgia State Patrol investigation is ongoing into how fast Varnell Officer James Smith was traveling when he crashed into Leon Thurman as he was crossing Cleveland Highway delivering newspapers early on March 4.

An investigator with the collision reconstruction team said they are still waiting on test results before presenting evidence to the Conasauga Judicial District Attorney’s office.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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