Lawsuit over fire truck accident may go to trial

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 12, 2001

A wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Natchez, Natchez Fire Chief Gary Winborne and former Natchez Fire Department firefighter Bobby Jack Stutzman might go to trial this month in Adams County Circuit Court.

Former Natchez-Adams School Board member Terry Estes, his wife Paula, and son, Brett, filed the civil suit for the March 7, 1996, death of their daughter, Hailey Elizabeth Estes, 19.

Estes and her University of Mississippi sorority sister, Melinda &uot;Mindy&uot; Carlson, 18, of Edina, Minn., died after being struck by a Natchez fire truck driven by Stutzman at the intersection of Seargent S. Prentiss Drive and Melrose-Montebello Parkway.

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&uot;Obviously (Terry Estes) feels that his family has suffered a great loss,&uot; said Bruce Kuehnle, one of the family’s attorneys.

Terry Estes declined comment on the case Friday directing all comments to his attorney.

But he said the pending trial had no bearing on his decision to step down from the Natchez-Adams School Board.

Estes served the board for 10 years and attended his last meeting as a board member last month

If the lawsuit goes to trial it will take place March 19 before Circuit Court Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders.

It will be a &uot;bench trial,&uot; meaning the case will be tried to the judge and not to a jury, Kuehnle said, adding the amount of damages the plaintiffs are requesting has not been finalized

City Attorney Walter Brown said discussion about a pre-trial settlement is ongoing. Brown said it is possible the case might be settled this week.