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Family of Westport crash victim files lawsuit against Kansas City, alleged KCFD fire truck driver

KCFD Westport.jpg
Posted at 11:22 AM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 19:24:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The family of one of the victims killed in last month's crash involving a Kansas City, Missouri, Fire Department pumper truck has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the driver of the pumper truck.

The family of 25-year-old Michael Elwood is represented by attorney Tim Dollar, who filed the lawsuit Wednesday morning in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The family spoke exclusively with the KSHB 41 I-Team on Wednesday.

They said he was on his way home the night of the crash. He was planning to move back to St. Louis to be closer to family.

"I don't think that there's been a day or two that goes by that I don't end up crying about it again," Nathan Elwood, Michael Elwood's brother said.

The lawsuit comes exactly three weeks after the KCFD pumper truck collided with an SUV near the intersection of Broadway Boulevard and Westport Road. A brick building partially collapsed because of the crash.

"It's been really, really difficult. We just had one of the funeral services on Monday night, which was incredibly emotional for me and for the rest of my family," Elwood said.

Three people were killed, including Elwood, who was a passenger in the SUV. Another victim, Jennifer San Nicholas, was driving the SUV and also died. Tami Knight was walking on the sidewalk when the crash happened and died.

The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department's investigation into the circumstances of the collision and subsequent crash into the building is ongoing and no final reports have yet been made.

But in the lawsuit, the attorney alleges KCFD Pumper 19 was dispatched for a fire call, but had been called off the emergency response.

"We didn't want to file a lawsuit. We want our brother back. We want to turn back time to when my brother was still alive and he's not, which is deeply upsetting for us," Elwood said.

The lawsuit alleges the driver of Pumper 19 "failed to exercise the highest degree of care in the operation of his vehicle, and failed to conduct himself in a careful, prudent and lawful manner." It also alleges the driver was negligent.

"The message and the goal is to bring those who may have contributed to the cause of the crash to be held accountable so that changes can be made to either training, supervision or policy, which can hopefully prevent these sort of tragedies from occurring," Tim Dollar, attorney for the Elwood family said.

The KSHB 41 I-Team is not naming the driver at this time, pending the police department's investigation.

The lawsuit accuses the city and the fire department of being negligent.

For the Elwood family, they felt it was important to give Michael a voice.

"For me and I think for my family, it's better to put a human personal face on my brother than just his name is Michael. He was 25. He was much more than that," Elwood said.

They want him to remembered as a caring person with a big personality.

For his brother Nathan, one conversation days before the crash stands out to him.

"I told my brother the last time I talked to him, I told him that I loved him and I'm so thankful that I did. The people that you love, just make sure that they know you love them," Elwood said.

The family is seeking damages that "a jury determines to be fair and reasonable, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, and for all other proper relief."

The KSHB 41 I-Team has reached out to the city and the fire department for comment.

The fire department said they could not comment and referred us to the city.