Police pursuit, crash that killed 4 sparks lawsuit

Victims' family suing for more than $30 million

POSTED: 2:03 PM PST January 30, 2013    UPDATED: 1:28 PM PST January 29, 2013 

On the night they were killed, a Warm Springs couple in their 20s was trying to outrun a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy.

The car was packed with three adults, two young children and a car stereo speaker they reportedly stole from Sounds Unlimited in Madras.

The deputy stopped the car shortly after the shop's alarm system went off, but before he could question them, the driver sped off.

While chasing them toward the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, the sheriff's office says the deputy lost sight of them.

By the time he caught up with them, four of the five people in the car were dead.

Reports show the driver lost control of the car, crossed the center line and  crashed into an oncoming Warm Springs police car.

The deputy driving had several broken bones, but recovered.

Now, a federal lawsuit brought by family of those killed and the one young boy who survived is placing the blame on police for going after them.

The complaint claims the responding officers acted recklessly and without regard for the rights or safety of the suspects.

It goes on to say both officers knew there were young, innocent children in the car at the time but kept pursuing at high speeds.

I  was on scene the morning after the crash as sounds of grief echoed in the canyon.

But emotion will be put aside in the courtroom when a judge decides whether Jefferson County and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will have to pay, possibly up to $36 million for a pursuit that turned deadly.

The defense in this case has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The suit was filed in September and there's no word yet on when this case will go to trial.  

Lawyers for both sides did not return calls Monday from NewsChannel 21. However, Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins told us late Monday they cannot comment on pending litigation.