In Montana, people are upset over a recent tort filing. Justine Winter is suing, among others, the family of Erin Thompson and her 13-year-old son who died in a crash with her car. That might not seem too uncommon in a torts case. However, Winter was allegedly trying to commit suicide at the time by driving into opposing traffic before she hit Thompson and her son. (Her son, Caden, is shown left)
Thompson was four months pregnant at the time and she was returning with her son, Caden Odell, from a middle-school choral concert.
She is also suing the construction company that built the U.S. 93 overpass where the accident occurred.
Winter, 17, with her father, Randy Winter, filed the lawsuit iagainst Knife River Corp., Western Traffic Control Inc., Mountain West Holding Co. and the estate of Erin Thompson. They were able to name Thompson’s husband, Jason Thompson, as personal representative of the estate because he was not killed by Winter’s car.
Police say that Winter crossed into the opposing traffic in her Pontiac Grand Am when she hit Thompson’s northbound Subaru Forest at 85 mph. She now claims that the road was poorly designed and Thompson was negligent. They cite a defense witness who claims that she was not in the opposing lane.
Prosecutors cite a series of text messages just before the crash to suggest that Thompson crashed intentionally into the car. She had just had an argument with her boyfriend and appeared to believe that they were about to break up. Some of those text messages include:
“Good bye… My last words…”
“If I won. I would have you. And I wouldn’t crash my car.”
“And think this is now life or death. It shows you would rather me die because I want to kill myself. Good bye…”
“Because I wanted to kill myself. I wanted you out of my car so I could do what you told me I couldn’t. Because I lost you and it’s my fault.”
Prosecutors also point out that she was moving 85 mph and that the vehicle’s brakes were reportedly not applied until one second before deployment of the air bags.