A $700,000 settlement will resolve a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the Louisville Metro Police Department involving a 2010 crash that killed 22-year-old Sarah Bearden when an officer slammed into her vehicle on North Hurstbourne Parkway at more than 80 mph.
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As part of the settlement, Detective James Adams wrote a letter to Bearden’s family admitting he was speeding at the time of the wreck, which was a “contributing factor to this tragic accident. … I will never forget this accident and Sarah’s untimely death. It is a memory which will probably haunt me throughout my lifetime.”
The Louisville Metro Police Department suspended Adams for 30 days — the department’s strictest discipline, short of being fired — but also said he was not fired because of factors involved in the crash, including that Bearden was found to have a blood-alcohol content higher than the state’s 0.08 level for drunken driving.
But the Bearden family attorney, Chad Gardner, said at a news conference Tuesday that police misstated her alcohol content. A judge ruled last week that, because Bearden’s blood-alcohol sample was lost, the city would not be able to argue that she was intoxicated.
Gardner, who filed a suit in 2011 claiming Adams was driving “negligently and recklessly” when the crash occurred, said if Bearden bore any responsibility for the wreck, “it was minimal.”
“The Beardens wanted people to know that this wreck was not their daughter’s fault,” Gardner said, adding that both sides had been negotiating a settlement for the past few weeks and that Adams’ taking accountability was an important part. “Mr. Adams bears significant responsibility, and the Beardens wanted him to own that responsibility.”
Just last week, however, attorneys for Adams filed court records saying his speed was “not a substantial contributing factor,” and blamed Bearden for turning into Adams without looking and while attempting to text.
Bearden and her parents had attneded a college graduation party for one of her friends on the day of the crash. Bearden had a glass of wine or two before leaving.