Mother of woman killed in Mo. apparatus crash files wrongful death suit

Judy Holland, the mother of Tami Knight, is suing the Kansas City Fire Department, the employee whom she says drove the truck, and the city


Anna Spoerre
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of Tami Knight, one of three victims killed in a December crash in Westport that involved a firetruck, has sued the Kansas City Fire Department, alleging the fire truck's driver was negligent.

Judy Holland, the mother of 41-year-old Knight, the pedestrian killed in the crash, submitted the wrongful death lawsuit for filing on Thursday against the city, the fire department and the employee she says drove the truck.

The truck, Pumper 19, had been responding to an emergency call moments before the 10:30 p.m. crash and had been told to stand down moments before then.
The truck, Pumper 19, had been responding to an emergency call moments before the 10:30 p.m. crash and had been told to stand down moments before then. (Photo/Kansas City Fire Department)

David Frye, the attorney representing Holland, declined to comment Monday morning.

The wreck happened Dec. 15 when the fire truck, its lights on and siren blaring, hit a 2004 blue Honda CRV driven by Jennifer San Nicolas near the intersection of Westport Road and Broadway Blvd. The force of the crash sent the vehicles careening to the northwest, where they struck Knight on the sidewalk before slamming into a building at 4048 Broadway Blvd., police said at the time.

San Nicolas, 41, and Michael Elwood, 25, who was a passenger in the CRV, were killed. Both were employees at a nearby Italian restaurant. All three victims were from Kansas City.

Knight, whose body was recovered from under the rubble of the partially collapsed building, was an employee at Kansas City Public Schools.

"Tami was our quiet, rockstar data analyst," Kelly Wachel, a spokeswoman with KCPS said in the days after her death. "The night of her death, she spent time telling each of her teammates personally why she was grateful for each them."

In her lawsuit, Holland accuses the driver of being negligent in the moments leading up to the crash.

Holland's lawsuit, similar to one filed earlier this month by Elwood's parents, accused the firetruck's driver of running a red light, failing to yield to the right of way and traveling too fast for conditions.

After the truck hit the CRV, it became attached to the front of the truck as it struck two other vehicles, a streetlight, a tree and a bike rack before heading off the road and wrecking into the building, according to the lawsuit.

The truck, Pumper 19, had been responding to an emergency call moments before the 10:30 p.m. crash, according to the Kansas City Police Department. Shortly before the collision, a dispatcher told the firetruck's crew to "stand down" and "remain in quarters."

The building the pumper struck, once home to the Riot Room, partially collapsed. The building houses office spaces, though police said it was unoccupied at the time. No firefighters were injured.

Before she died, Knight suffered "conscious pain, suffering and fright," according to the lawsuit.

After the crash, KCFD released a written statement that said its "hearts, prayers, and thoughts are with the families, friends and loved ones of everyone involved." The department said it was cooperating fully with the police investigation.

"As first responders, we are entrusted to respond to incidents and help people, and we are heartbroken by last night's tragic collision," the statement said.

Following the lawsuit filed by Holland's family, a spokesman for the fire department said he could not comment on the pending litigation.

The Kansas City Police Department has yet to release its findings from the crash investigation. The department has said it could take up to eight weeks to conduct a complete investigation.

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The Star's Robert A. Cronkleton, Luke Nozicka and Mike Hendricks contributed reporting.

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(c)2022 The Kansas City Star 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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