When you see a fire truck with its lights on you likely assume that it is on its way to the scene of an accident or to put out a fire. You expect that the person driving the truck to operate the vehicle efficiently and safely, and you certainly expect the driver to be sober. Unfortunately for Jack Frazier of San Francisco, the fire truck he encountered on the night of June 29th was driven by a firefighter who was under the influence. Frazier was riding a motorcycle when he was struck by the truck driven by firefighter, Michael Quinn. ABC reported that the fire truck had its "emergency lights and sirens on" at the time of the accident. Though, according to surveillance video, Frazier had the green light, Quinn failed to slow down as he entered the intersection at Fifth and Howard.
When Frazier was hit by the "32-ton ladder truck," he went flying. The 52-year old was "thrown into a fire hydrant" and "suffered extensive injuries to his ribs, hip and ankle." After the accident, Quinn kept going. Another surveillance camera apparently caught Quinn at a bar located nearby. He was "guzzling water" in an attempt to sober up before returning to his fire station. At the station, fellow firefighters administered breathalyzer tests, which reportedly showed Quinn's BAC to be 0.18 and 0.16 percent. According to SFGate, "[p]rosecutors told a grand jury that Quinn's blood alcohol at the time of the crash could have been as high as 0.31 percent, based on estimates of his metabolic rate."
Quinn was subsequently charged some months later, in March of 2014, for the accident. He was charged with "two felony charges of driving under the influence causing injury and one count of driving a commercial vehicle under the influence causing injury." However, in a surprising twist, these charges were later tossed out in March of 2015.
The judge in charge of the case, Judge Kay Tsenin, tossed out the breath tests that Quinn had taken at the fire station because the breathalyzer that was used was "unreliable." The equipment was not "properly maintained, calibrated and tested." In addition, the judge "ruled that there was not enough evidence for police to arrest Quinn before they gave him the blood-alcohol test, given the delay of more than six hours before officers administered it." The judge stated that because of the delay in administering the test, the officers could have "no way of knowing whether Quinn had been drinking before the accident or after." The prosecutor's office appealed Judge Tsenin's ruling and lost. However, according to KRON 4, the district attorney's office has said there is still a pending criminal case against Quinn.
After the accident, Frazier filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco. The city proposed a settlement in July of 2016. The terms are that the city will pay "$4.99 million, with $10,000 to be paid personally by Quinn." Before the settlement can be finalized, the Board of Supervisors must approve it.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal today.