Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Don't shift blame in fatal crash

The estate of Sheila K. Julien fails to comprehend personal accountability. The family's ridiculous lawsuit against Pasco County and 17 property owners along a private road in east Pasco is an attempt to shift blame for Julien's poor choices and to extract a few bucks from the public purse and private insurers.

A judge should toss this utter nonsense with prejudice and the attorney who filed the frivolous action should be ashamed.

Julien, 53 at the time of her death, perished in a horrific car crash in September 2010 when the Pontiac Bonneville in which she was riding blew through a stop sign and crashed into a pair of trees alongside Sheffey Lane, a narrow, privately owned road without streetlights.

Julien had cocaine, methamphetamine and opiates in her system. She was a shoplifting suspect and had jumped into her partner's Bonneville to flee a pursuing store clerk from Blockbuster Video in Zephyrhills. The clerk later told police the car traveled more than 100 mph before he lost sight of it on Centennial Road, east of U.S. 301. Two-lane Centennial Road ends at a stop sign with the intersection of Newsome Road and motorists continuing east travel onto Sheffey Lane, a single-lane road abutted by large trees.

Julien's longtime partner and driver, Paul Suprenant, 39, also died in the crash. He, too, had drugs in his system, a history of attempting to flee police, and no valid driver's license. Had he survived, the Florida Highway Patrol said, Suprenant would have been charged with speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, careless driving, driving under the influence, DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide for causing the crash that killed Julien.

But a Winter Haven attorney retained by Julien's daughter filed suit against the county and the people who live along Sheffey Lane alleging the stop sign was obscured, the trees shouldn't have been there, and the absence of streetlights shared blame.

What nonsense. Counsel should have read the state police death investigation. "There was no apparent visual roadway obstructions or environmental factors that would have contributed to this crash,'' the report states. Likewise, it reads, "Paul G. Suprenant is responsible for the collision, the untimely death of his right, front passenger, Sheila K. Julien, and his own untimely death.''

The Thonotosassa couple died from their own poor judgment. That is not the fault of Pasco County taxpayers nor the residents of Sheffey Lane.

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