Ambulance vs. pedestrian: Who was responsible? | AspenTimes.com
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Ambulance vs. pedestrian: Who was responsible?

Chad Abraham

Aspenite Amy Britvar remembers thinking she was “going to die” after an ambulance hit her in front of St. Mary Catholic Church in Aspen.Her attorney, Ted Hess, told a Pitkin County jury Monday that Britvar stepped into the crosswalk in front of the church and saw the ambulance backing up toward her. She put up her hands and yelled at the ambulance driver to stop.But driver Charles Kirsten didn’t stop. Britvar maintains she never recovered from the injuries she suffered that day.The 71-year-old Britvar is suing Kirsten and Mountain Ambulance, for whom Kirsten was a driver, over the Feb. 25, 2004, incident.A different ambulance and crew took Britvar to Aspen Valley Hospital that day, where she was treated and released. It was later discovered she had a fractured bone in her pelvis, and about six weeks after the accident she fell down in her bedroom while looking for her cane, and injured her knee.As a result, Hess said Britvar can no longer play an active role in her late husband’s company and cannot garden or attend her grandchildren’s sporting events. A once “hearty, resilient” woman, Britvar is now emaciated, Hess said.But Rick Haderlie, Kirsten’s attorney, said Britvar caused the accident by stepping in the path of a moving ambulance.In his opening statement, Haderlie told jurors the trial is about responsibility – specifically Britvar’s duty to avoid stepping in front of a moving ambulance. The ambulance was backing up slowly, with all of its lights functioning, “for some time, for some distance,” Haderlie said.He also said a medical exam showed that she was not seriously injured in the accident. “Five weeks after the accident, she denied any hip pain,” he said.Referring to the fall in her bedroom, Haderlie informed the jury that Britvar has “a long, long history of her left side giving way.” Britvar’s personal doctor is scheduled testify that the pain she is experiencing is from bursitis related to hip surgery she had in 2002, Haderlie said.Haderlie also told jurors that the plaintiff was on a painkiller that affected her judgment on the day of the accident. He said that it was unfair to blame the driver or the ambulance company for the accident.”Sympathy cannot be your guide,” he told the jury.The trial is scheduled to last through Thursday.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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