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Daughter Sues Driver of Coal Truck Who Struck, Killed Her Paramedic Mother

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The teenage daughter of a paramedic who was killed in a freak accident last month has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against a coal truck driver and the company that owns the truck.

Olivia Dawn Burchett, 15, seeks millions of dollars in damages from Leslie Spence of Tomahawk and M&R Trucking Inc. of Salyersville, Ky.

Christa Burchett, 33, had responded to a minor crash on U.S. 460 in Johnson County shortly after 9 a.m. Jan. 22, state police said. The driver, Erica Brown, 24, had been unhurt, but she was 11 weeks pregnant and wanted someone to check on her unborn child.

As Burchett was helping Brown on the shoulder of the road, Spence's truck slid on the icy road, hit two other vehicles and then plowed into Brown and Burchett. Brown was killed on impact; Burchett died about an hour later.

The lawsuit claims that M&R was in violation of certain inspection and maintenance standards for Spence's truck.

According to the lawsuit, Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement officers cited M&R after the crash for failing to ensure that the tractor-trailer had been properly inspected and maintained.

The lawsuit did not specifically describe those alleged violations, but Olivia Burchett's attorney, John W. Kirk of Paintsville, said in an interview that the problems involve the truck's brakes and steering.

Kirk declined to elaborate and said he is waiting for vehicle enforcement officers to complete their investigation.

Authorities said on the day of the crash that the truck was not overweight.

The lawsuit also alleges that Spence was driving the coal truck too fast for the icy conditions.

"Had the truck been going in first gear, as slow as it should have been going, this would not have happened," Kirk said.

Spence and Maxine Hunley, the owners of M&R, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Because Olivia Burchett is a juvenile, she has filed the suit through her father, Clifford Burchett. The Burchetts were divorced.

Olivia is seeking a jury trial and punitive damages of at least $10 million, as well as funeral expenses and attorneys' fees.

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