The families of two Yukon students who were involved in a fatal crash last year on State Highway 4 near Britton Road have filed a tort claim against the city of Oklahoma City, Canadian County and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The parents of Matthew Silva and Nickolas Bussett filed a claim seeking at least $175,000 in damages on Aug. 28 with Oklahoma City. That is the one-year anniversary of the accident that claimed Silva’s life and left Bussett with extensive injuries.
The case must go through a tort claim process before it can be filed in district court.
Rachel L. Bussett, of the Bussett Legal Group in El Reno, is representing the families.
The lawsuit claims the lack of traffic control at the intersection of State Highway 4 and Britton Road led to the crash between Silva’s vehicle and a semi-truck.
According to the filing, on Aug. 26, 2016, Silva and Bussett were driving to Yukon High School for band practice.
Silva was driving west on Britton Road while a driver of a semi, Alberto Longoria, was traveling north on SH 4.
The only traffic control measure at the site was a flashing yellow light on SH 4 and a flashing red light on Britton Road.
Silva apparently stopped at the signal light, but then proceeded into the intersection after not seeing Longoria’s approaching truck.
He was broadsided.
This was the second fatal accident at the location in less than two years, according to documents.
“This intersection is a known deadly intersection, and the governing agencies have failed to adequately maintain and improve the intersection despite the high number of injury and fatality accidents occurring at the location,” the claim states.
In addition, the claim states that the state, city and county have failed to maintain control of vegetation to keep the roadway unobstructed.
“There are no sufficient warning devices on Piedmont Road or on Britton Road to warn drivers of the safety risks,” the claim states.
Since the accident, the overhead warning lights have been removed, and stop signs lighted with LED warnings have been put into place on Britton Road.
But the Silva family said that is not enough.
“Something has to be done. One child is too many, two in the same intersection? Unforgiveable,” James Silva told News9 this week.
“As his parents and for the community, what we can do is say, ‘Do something about it,’” Silva’s mother, Beatrice, said.
Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation have previously said they do not normally put traffic control devices on state highways in rural areas.
Lisa Shearer-Salim, a public information manager with the department of transportation, said an expansion project for SH 4 is planned between SH 66 and Northwest Expressway in 2022.
The project will widen the road, add shoulders, replace bridges and add turn lanes. However, there are no plans, at this time, for signal lights at Britton Road and SH 4.
Shearer-Salim said signal lights are maintained by city or county jurisdictions, and it would be up to them to request signalization.
“If they have done studies, we will work with them, but it has to come at their request,” she said.
Thus far, however, no study has been requested.
Officials with the transportation department, as well as Oklahoma City said they could not comment on pending litigation.
Officials with Canadian County were not immediately available to comment.