FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The widow of a man killed in a July 2019 collision in Marion County is suing the City of Fairmont and two Fairmont Police officers.
Emily Santini, on behalf of her deceased husband, Steven Santini, is accusing the defendants, including officers Jakob Streyle and Christopher Guinup, of negligence. She is being represented by the Tiano O’Dell law firm out of Charleston.
According to the lawsuit, on July 10, 2019, Streyle, while on duty, was driving a police pickup truck west on Country Club Road in Fairmont at speeds of at least 73 mph in a 35 mph zone. During this time, Streyle did not activate the vehicle’s siren or emergency lights, and there was no active emergency call requiring an emergency response from officers, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit also states that Guinup was a passenger in the vehicle with Streyle; however, he is accused of not taking any action to get Streyle to slow down or turn on the siren or flashing lights.
While this was going on, the lawsuit states that Steven Santini was driving south on Bison Street and was approaching the intersection with Country Club Road. Based on eyewitness accounts, Steven Santini stopped at the stop sign at the intersection for a period of time before making a left turn onto Country Club Road, according to the lawsuit.
Further, the lawsuit claims that the police vehicle driven by Streyle collided with Steven Santini’s vehicle in the area of the driver’s side door, causing it to flip onto its side and crash into a telephone pole and gas pipeline. The police vehicle spun around and rested against Steven Santini’s vehicle, according to the lawsuit.
Steven Santini died at the scene of the collision.
Shortly after the incident, other Fairmont Police officers arrived and told at least two witnesses to leave the scene without obtaining statements, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that on the day of the collision, the Fairmont Police Department posted on Facebook that the police vehicle was not traveling at an excessive rate of speed, and that an independent witness stated the civilian vehicle (Steven Santini’s vehicle) had run a stop sign.
According to the lawsuit, following the incident, an independent accident reconstruction expert downloaded data from the police vehicle’s “black box,” which confirmed that Streyle was driving at a speed of at least 73 mph, and the collision would not have happened if he had been driving the speed limit of 35 mph.
The plaintiff requests a jury trial and seeks compensatory damages from the City of Fairmont, Streyle and Guinup, along with punitive damages from Streyle and Guinup.