SEATTLE -- A motorcyclist with severe brain damage has filed a multimillion-dollar claim against the state, saying it ignored safety procedures during an Interstate 5 construction project.
Scott Bliss’s attorneys said a dump truck operated by a Washington State Department of Transportation contractor turned in front of Bliss, leading to an accident that shattered not only his bones but also his life.
“I wait for him, I tell him, ‘Look at me. Find my voice, Scott,’” said Cheryl Aton, Bliss' girlfriend and legal guardian.
Aton and Bliss have been partnered for eight years. Ever since the April accident, Bliss has been hospitalized with broken bones, internal organ damage and a severe brain injury.
“We’re all here today because of the careless disregard for public safety,” said attorney Vivii Vanderslice. “We shouldn’t be here. This shouldn’t have happened, it was 100% preventable.”
Aton’s attorneys said WSDOT and its subcontractor, Scarsella Bros. Inc., failed to put up the proper warning signs in the construction zone along I-5 in Centralia.
In the early morning hours, Aton’s attorneys claim, a dump truck and trailer suddenly made a U-turn in front of Scott on the freeway on-ramp. Bliss’s motorcycle hit the metal bar that connects the truck and trailer, throwing him off the bike.
“It could have been prevented. It's just so hard to wrap my head around. It’s senseless,” said Aton.
Aton’s claim demands $20 million from the state, and a lawsuit has been filed against Scarsella Bros. Inc. of Kent.
“It’s time WSDOT, and the contractors they hire, do more to ensure that innocent people in the roadway are not harmed because they fail to follow documented safety plans,” said attorney Kirk Bernard.
Aton’s attorneys said Bliss will need a lifetime of medical care.
“He just loved life, he was a kid, he was my grown-up kid,” said Aton.
She said Bliss loved his dog, loved to fish and loved ride his motorcycle, but now she struggles to cope with the likelihood that he may never be the same man again.
”It’s our hope that at the end of this process we will be able to implement change so that another family will not have to endure the needless suffering inflicted upon Scott and Cheryl,” Vanderslice said.
WSDOT said it would not comment on this case because it's a pending lawsuit.
The contractor, Scarsella Bros, did not immediately return a message for comment.