Two Johnson County grandmothers are seeking several million dollars for the deaths of their son and daughter, who were killed in a collision with a tractor trailer on U.S. 23 in Johnson County last year.

Lawrence County resident Roselee Rigsby, representing the estate of her son, Joseph, and his two surviving children, filed a wrongful death suit against truck driver George Hamilton and his employer, Akers Magnetite of Kenova, W.Va. Rigsby, represented by attorney John C. Kirk, is seeking $10 million for alleged negligence of Hamilton and his employer.

Her son was decapitated in February 2007 when his car was struck by a freightliner driven by Hamilton, a Huntington resident and student at Marshall University.

Rigsby, 35, of Martha, and his passenger Stacy (Triplett) Quesenberry, 27, of Louisa, both died in the accident, which occurred about 4:35 p.m. in Wittensville in Johnson County.

Attorney Eldred E. Adams, Jr. filed suit on behalf of Quesenberry’s mother, Marsha Chaffin, who is handling the estate of Quesenberry’s two infant sons. In addition to Hamilton and the company, Adams sued company owner Randall C. Akers, who did not return repeated calls for comment.

Kentucky State Police officials at Pikeville reported Rigsby pulled his vehicle from the shoulder of the road onto U.S. 23 into the path of Hamilton’s vehicle, which was traveling southbound. The impact caused Rigsby’s vehicle to overturn.

Adams claims that Hamilton acted carelessly, recklessly and negligently in causing the wreck. Kirk alleges Hamilton acted willfully, recklessly and wantonly when he drove the loaded tractor-trailer at approximately 85 miles per hour down a hill and crashed into Rigsby’s vehicle, which he didn’t see in time because he was “deprived of necessary rest and sleep.”

A reconstructionist employed by Kirk’s law firm estimated Hamilton’s speed by skid marks on the road and other factors. Rigsby was “literally obliterated” in the crash, the complaint alleges.

Kirk said U.S. 23, a road he often travels, is crowded with large trucks passing each other, “flying downhill” and “pushing each other” along the roadway.

“It’s a dangerous place out there,” Kirk said. “These trucks have got to slow down.”

His firm settled two similar wrongful death complaints that resulted from accidents in which people were killed when they crashed into overloaded coal trucks on U.S. 23. The confidential settlements, paid by the trucking companies and the companies that overloaded both coal trucks, were “seven-figure” settlements, Kirk said.

After the accident, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement officers cited Hamilton for federal trucking violations, noting on the citation he did not have a log book, as required, and he didn’t have records of seven days of driving prior to the accident.

Vicky Rice, Johnson County circuit court clerk, said Hamilton paid $163 for the violation. He has had no other traffic violations there, she said.

Randall Akers, the owner of Akers Magnetite, was visiting a relative in the hospital Tuesday and unavailable for comment. Hamilton was also not available for comment.

MARY MUSIC can be reached at mmusic@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2657

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