Families of 3 teens killed in crash suing state of Indiana


by Gene Kang


Posted on September 19, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 19 at 9:44 PM

(WHAS11) - Parents of two Scott County teens are suing the state of Indiana for the deaths of their sons. They say it's for the safety of the community.

Dina Burke is Cory Emerson's mother.

"I'm hoping this won't happen again there were so many complaints about this intersection over the years," she said.

It's not about winning money for Dina Burke and other parents suing the state of Indiana. She wants to change a dangerous intersection in Scott County before another tragic accident claims someone's life.

The parents of two Scott County teens filed a lawsuit against the state, accusing the Department of Transportation for the deadly crash at the intersection of State Road 356 and US 31.

Robert Henderson, 19, was driving on State Road 356 in Scott County headed toward Highway 31 in August 2007. There were no skid marks at the scene.

Cory Emerson, 18, 19-year-old Juliane Kraus and 19-year-old Timothy Brunmeier were t-boned by a blue Chevy Blazer. Their car spun and wrapped around a telephone pole.

Evidence showed they did not drink alcohol, do drugs or speed.

Anne Bauer is a family friend. The teens were friends with her daughter. They were leaving her house that night. "Initially I see bus load after bus load and it takes one crash to be injured," said Bauer.

Kraus was an exchange student from Germany who was leaving for home the next day. Emerson died at the scene and Brunmeier lost his life at the hospital.

Tess Brunmeier is Timothy Brunmeier's mother.

"I hope we can send a message to the State to say pay attention to rural communities so no parents have to live what we lived through," she said.

Their lawyer argued the stop sign was blocked by another sign on 356. It was placed over 20 feet from the intersection instead of 6-12 feet.

The "stop ahead" warning sign was standing 875 feet before the stop sign instead of the State regulated 225 feet. Plus, it was pitch black that night.

Defense retaliated that those numbers are not strict regulations and that INDOT wasn't careless in maintaining that intersection.

But even the Sheriff said in court the intersection has poor lighting. There are no warning flashers and it's known for crashes.

These parents want to prove their case so improvements are made and school buses driving along State Road 356 are safe.

Robert Henderson is expected to testify when court reconvenes Tuesday morning at 8:30. If they win, the families could receive money for damages.