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Mom of woman killed in Harbour Island bridge crash to sue drunken driving suspect

The mother of a young woman killed walking on the Harbour Island bridge is suing the man accused in her death.

The Clearwater lawyer filing suit on behalf of her and the victim's estate lost his first wife to a drunken driver and is a former state chairman of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Early on Oct. 30, Kate Kohlier and Doug Kozar were leaving work at Tampa's Marriott Waterside Hotel and walking across the bridge when they were struck and killed by a car driven by Matthew R. Moye, authorities said.

Another hotel employee, 47-year-old Joao Armando Fonseca Barbosa, suffered a broken ankle when he jumped out of the way of the speeding Cadillac, police said. Last week, Barbosa filed a negligence lawsuit against Moye.

Kohlier was 24 and "on the brink of graduating from the University of South Florida with a degree in psychology," said attorney Tom Carey, who is representing Kohlier's mother, Cindy Collins, in the suit.

The university has awarded the degree to Kohlier posthumously, Carey said.

Collins of Largo declined to speak with the media. She began to cry when Carey spoke about her daughter, calling her "an amazing young woman."

Moye, a dentist in Riverview, has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, two counts of driving under the influence manslaughter and one count of DUI with injury. He was released from the Hillsborough County jail after posting $119,000 bond.

The wrongful death suit, which will be filed in Hillsborough, seeks damages in excess of $15,000.

Asked why he was filing the suit before criminal proceedings are completed, Carey said the incident was egregious enough to warrant the action.

"It's the kind of case, the kind of tragedy, that could have been averted," Carey said.

Carey, whose first wife was killed by a drunken driver in 1983 and is a former president of the Pinellas County chapter of MADD, said the lawsuit is intended to compensate Kohlier's family but also to send a stark message.

It's "aimed at preventing similar things from happening in the future," he said.

Investigators arrested Moye on the DUI charges when, after the crash, they smelled alcohol on his breath and noticed he had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, according to Tampa police.

Moye was combative to arriving officers, police said, and refused to consent to a Breathalyzer.

A sample of his blood was taken for testing.

Carey said he had not yet learned the results of that test, but expected they would be available within a week.

Mom of woman killed in Harbour Island bridge crash to sue drunken driving suspect 11/10/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 10:48pm]
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