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Cok Kinzler PLLP

Family mourns loss of Missoula 19-year-old in pedestrian accident

When a young person's life is lost because of another party's negligent or reckless behavior, the victim's family, friends and community are left searching for answers in a world that seems to have none. While criminal charges are the most common way for grieving families in Montana to see justice done, a civil claim of wrongful death can provide the additional assurance that financial damages are covered after a tragedy.

One fatal series of events is still under investigation in Missoula. A 19-year-old high school athlete was reportedly walking with his girlfriend on the sidewalk of Mullan Road when a car driven by a 38-year-old woman approached.

According to investigators, the car breached the sidewalk and hit the young man. His girlfriend came away uninjured, but he had to be transported to St. Patrick Hospital. There he died of his injuries.

Initial reports suggest that the driver was not intoxicated and apparently had not been distracted by her cell phone. Excessive speed was also not thought to have caused the collision.

What is clear is that in broad daylight, at 4:30 p.m., a vehicle fatally struck an unsuspecting pedestrian who was apparently abiding by sidewalk and traffic laws. The victim, a student at Hellgate High School who was described as charming and playful, was recently remembered by friends and family at a funeral service at the University of Montana Stadium. About 300 people were in attendance.

According to police, an official accident report had not yet been sent to the county attorney because "a couple of things" still needed to be verified. That statement was given on April 5. The community is undoubtedly awaiting the findings of that investigation.

Source:, "Police continue investigation into Missoula fatal crash," Irina Cates, April 3, 2013

Source: Missoulian, "Playful, charming Hellgate student killed by car remembered in stadium service," Kim Briggeman, April 5, 2013

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