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Family sues Decatur Utilities after water main cover killed woman

The family is suing Decatur Utilities and the City of Decatur for wrongful death.

Posted: Oct. 5, 2018 5:21 PM
Updated: Oct. 5, 2018 5:48 PM

A family filed a lawsuit against Decatur Utilities and the City of Decatur after their family member was killed by a water main cover.

The accident happened in April on Wilson Street. That's where Karen Jenkins was driving when a car in front of her drove over the cover. Police say the cover flew into the air, slammed through the windshield and hit her while driving. She died several days later from her injuries.

The 18-page lawsuit goes into detail about what happened that day, but it also claims that this isn't the first time a water main cover hit a driver. The lawsuit describes a similar incident on April 7, 2015, three years before Jenkins's accident. The suit said a cover came out of the road on Wilson Street, hitting a truck and a trailer. No one was hurt. Later that day, another truck drove over the same cover and flew through the air again. This time it was replaced.

A lawyer for the family said they learned about these two incidents after filing a Freedom of Information request. The family is suing Decatur Utilities and the city for wrongful death, saying they "had notice and knowledge of prior incidents involving the distribution system's water valve boxes and covers located in the roadway."

WAAY 31 went to Decatur Utilities to ask if the water main cover has been replaced and if there are other ones that could come out. A spokesperson said they could not comment on pending litigation.

We also tried reaching the Jenkins family but were not able to get ahold of them. The family lawyer told me the family hopes the lawsuit will bring "recognition of the risk of unsecured valve covers and the need for proper inspection and maintenance protocols."

The lawyer also said they are concerned there are more unsecured covers throughout Decatur that could hurt someone else.

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