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Family of woman killed in DUI crash sues government for millions

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BURIEN — Nearly a year after a tragic crash claimed the life of a newlywed, her family is launching a multi-million dollar lawsuit against King County and the city of Burien.

Clay Eakin and his wife Barbara were driving to the airport to fly off to their honeymoon when a drunk driver flew down a nearby dead-end road crashing onto Highway 509 and into their car.

Clay survived, but Barbara died days later in the hospital.

“It was an amazing relationship, i had never felt that way about anyone before,” said Clay. “We were planning on spending the rest of our lives together.”

The driver, Christopher Wittman, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, but Clay and his family say he is not the only one to blame.

“This was a horribly dangerous area that county officials and eventually the city of Burien did nothing to address,” said Brad Davis, the attorney representing the family.

The family is now suing King County and Burien for $16 million dollars. They says both governments were negligent in removing a guard rail at the end of the road in 2009.

Jordan Briggs, who lives at the end of that street, said a few cars have crashed into that guard rail over the years, but it always held, and he believes it would have held last year, when Wittman refused to stop.

“If there was a guard rail there, he definitely wouldn`t have made it to the freeway,” said Briggs.

Davis said, “It`s ironic to me that this guard rail was removed in part because cars kept bumping into it, and yet nothing was put up in its’ place.”

A wooden, hazard barricade was put up after the fatal crash, but the family of Barbara Eakin says it's not enough, and someone needs to pay for not taking steps to make a dangerous road safer.

“Hopefully get some justice for my mom so that it doesn`t happen again to somebody else,” said Rhonda Malland, Barbara’s daughter.

A spokesperson for the city of Burien told us they have no comment on the lawsuit. King County reps say it's too early in the case to comment. But the family is still pushing to have a larger barrier placed at the end of that road.

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