Bend dentist's estate sues driver for $32.5 million

Claims she was on several prescription drugs

BEND, Ore. - A $32.5 million civil lawsuit was filed Friday against a Bend woman who allegedly was under the influence of several prescription drugs when she struck and killed a Bend dentist who was cycling east of town late last year.

The 10-page lawsuit alleging wrongful death and gross negligence was filed against Shantel Witt by attorney Nathan Steele on behalf of Jerry Stone, personal representative of the estate of Marika Stone, 38, who was killed in the Dec. 30 crash on Dodds Road, leaving behind two young children, now 8 and 5.

Witt earlier this month pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, DUII and other charges; her criminal trial is scheduled for late January 2019.

The lawsuit claims Witt "has a history of nearly two decades of sustained and consistent use of prescription medications including, but not limited to hydrocodone-acetaminophen, Clonazepam and Carisoprodol."

It also notes that Witt was arrested in July 2014 on DUII charges and a Breathalyzer test found she had a blood alcohol content of 0.14 percent. She entered into a diversion agreement and completed a court-ordered substance abuse treatment plan.

On the day of the crash, the suit alleges Witt left her home on Dodds Road late that morning to go shopping in Bend and had "ingested various prescription medications that day including, but not limited to, a tranquilizer, a muscle relaxer and an anti-anxiety drug."

Around 3:20 that afternoon, the suit states, Witt was driving eastbound on Dodds Road while Stone and two friends were "lawfully riding their bicycles in the westbound lane, hugging the fog line," with Stone the last in line of the three riders.

The lawsuit said Witt crossed the center line of Dodds Road into the oncoming lane "at speeds in excess of 50 mph" and struck and killed Stone as her pickup "veered onto the gravel shoulder of the westbound lane." 

Witnesses saw the pickup swerve back into the eastbound lane and continue on, but "at some point" stopped and "drove in reverse back to the scene of the crash," where she "used expletives regarding the presence of bicyclists on the road," the lawsuit said Witt then called someone on her cellphone "and stated in substance that she thought she had just killed someone."

Investigators arriving at the scene said Witt "was glassy-eyed, lethargic and unable to track conversation with investigators," and got out and walked like "a person walking on the deck of a moving boat or ship," the lawsuit said, adding that she did not know what day it was and was unable to successfully perform field sobriety tests.

The lawsuit alleges Witt "denied the use of narcotic drugs" and refused to provide a blood or urine sample, or to let investigators search her pickup or to be examined by a drug recognition expert. A search of the pickup found two prescription drug bottles that contained four different drugs.

The lawsuit claims Witt's "reckless, indifferent and wanton conduct was outrageous and constituted gross negligence."  It seeks $23 million in economic damages and $9.5 million in non-economic damages, also reserving the right to amend the suit to seek punitive damages.

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