By Jesse Wood
A settlement has been reached with the estate of Reinalda Roa Gomez, a 57-year-old woman of Boone who died after a Town of Boone snowplow collided with Gomez’s 2006 Mercury vehicle in March 2013.
According to the packet for the upcoming Boone Town Council meeting, an agenda item was placed under the heading, “Disclosure of Settlement between the Town’s Insurance Company and Estate of Reinalda Roa-Gomez. Staff noted that this disclosure is consistent with N.C. General Statutes.
“In the case between the Town of Boone’s insurance company and the estate of Reinalda Roa-Gomez, a settlement was reached with agreement that a payment of $300,000 was to be made to the estate within 14 days of final settlement approval,” according to the brief memo in the packet.
Last August, the estate of Gomez filed a civil suit in Watauga County Superior Court, alleging negligence on the part of the Town of Boone for failing to maintain its fleet and Town of Boone employee Robert Dale Rominger for failing to inspect and test the brakes before driving on the night in question.
On March 25, 2013 at about 7:40 p.m., Rominger was driving the snowplow down University Hall Drive when the brakes of the snowplow didn’t stop the vehicle at a stop sign at the U.S. 321 intersection during a snowstorm.
“The weather on the night of March 25 was extremely snowy and all roads in and around Boone were covered with ice,” the complaint acknowledged.
The snowplow struck Gomez’s vehicle, which was traveling in a “northerly direction” on U.S. 321. She died on March 28, 2013, suffering severe injuries and “mental anguish” from the accident, the complaint reads.
In addition, the complaint alleged that the Town of Boone failed to maintain mandatory and routine records of maintenance procedures on the fleet and failed to provide proper mechanical training for the specific brake system featured on the snowplow.
Also, the complaint alleged that Rominger failed to maintain a reasonable, careful and proper lookout in the direction of travel; exceeded a reasonable rate of speed under the circumstances and conditions; and “knew or should have known the brakes were defective.”
Frank Wilson of di Santi, Watson Capua and Wilson law firm in Boone represented Alma Ross Miranda Roa, who is the executor of the estate.
Lee Davis of Davis & Hamrick, LLP, out of Winston-Salem, represented Rominger and the Town of Boone.