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Families Awarded Compensation for Fatal Crash with Police Vehicle

Two families are to receive compensation for a fatal car crash with a police vehicle after a settlement was agreed just days before the case was scheduled to be heard at the Superior Court of Kern County.

Chrystal Jolley (30) and Daniel Hiler (25) were both fatally injured when, on 16th December 2011, a police patrol vehicle driven by Deputy John Swearengin hit the two friends as they were pushing a motorcycle across Norris Road in Bakersfield.

The accident was investigated by the California Highway Patrol, who found that Deputy Swearengin was traveling at a speed of 80mph in a 45mph zone without sirens or lights, and that he had taken his eyes off the road shortly before hitting Chrystal and Daniel.

The families of the two victims made a claim for compensation for a fatal crash with a police vehicle on the grounds that Swearengin – whose criminal prosecution is pending – had violated both the California Vehicle Code and the Kern County Sheriff’s Department policies by causing death by reckless driving.

The County of Kern – against who the claim for a fatal crash with a police vehicle was made – contested the claim by saying that Deputy Swearengin had been responding to a call of a stolen vehicle when the crash occurred, and that Daniel was intoxicated at the time of the accident and that his intoxication contributed to the accident occurring.

The claim was scheduled to be heard by the Superior Court of Kern County, but just days before opening arguments were to be heard, a settlement of compensation for a fatal crash with a police vehicle was negotiated which will see Chrystal´s family receive $4 million, and Daniel´s family receive $4.4 million.