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Family of girl hit by cruiser plans to sue

BROOKSVILLE — The family of an 11-year-old girl who was hit by a deputy's vehicle plans to sue Hernando County and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office for damages.

Attorney Teresa Williams of Clearwater filed the notice of intent earlier this year on behalf of Mauria Stringer and her mother, Kimberly Jefferson.

For the first time, the document gives the girl's account of what happened on the morning of Dec. 14.

Williams states that Mauria was waiting at her school bus stop outside her home on Mount Sparrow Road in the Royal Highlands area at the time of the crash.

She was standing in the grass just off the road when a sheriff's cruiser driven by Deputy Julio Tagliani "veered slightly off the road and struck Ms. Stringer knocking her off her feet and into the air," according to a copy of the notice released by the county this week.

Stringer landed in the road and was momentarily unconscious after striking her head, the notice states.

Tagliani told investigators that he briefly looked down at the laptop computer in his cruiser while he logged on. When he looked up, he saw the child but by then it was too late to avoid her.

Sheriff's Office investigators noted that thick fog in the area reduced visibility at the time of the crash. Tagliani was driving about 20 mph in an area with a posted speed limit of 35 mph and began braking about 21 feet before hitting the girl, accident reports state. His car came to rest 28 feet after that, investigators found.

The account given by the Sheriff's Office at the time said the girl was standing about 7 feet from the grassy area on the rural road.

The agency's accident review board has cleared Tagliani in the accident, saying he could not have prevented it.

Investigators initially reported that the girl was treated at Oak Hill Hospital and released the same day. But the lawsuit notice indicates she received medical evaluation from a number of physicians and suggests she'll need further treatment.

The claim seeks damages in excess of $15,000 for injuries sustained to her head, upper body and left knee.

John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6114.

Family of girl hit by cruiser plans to sue 04/10/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 13, 2008 12:01pm]
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