FORT PIERCE, Fla. — A young man is accused of killing five young people and injuring a teenager in a fiery crash in Fort Pierce in November.
Now, Tanner Dashner, 21, is being sued for another dangerous driving incident only months before the deadly crash.
Attorney John Phillips says he got a call from Indian River County resident, Melanie Bowmaster, shortly after the Fort Pierce crash.
“I guess some of the immediate attention from the Fort Pierce six as we’re calling them, the five fatalities and the one injured, led Melanie to call our office,” Phillips said.
Police records show Bowmaster was walking eastbound on 21st Street SW in Indian River County around 7:30 the morning of Sept. 28, 2018.
A police report says Bowmaster was walking in the grass since there is not a shoulder for that road.
At the same time, a police report shows Dashner was driving eastbound on 21st Street SW. He told deputies the sun was in his eyes and he did not see Bowmaster along the side of the road, hitting her.
He stopped to help her and called 911.
Bowmaster said she had significant pain in her left arm and shoulder where a passenger side window hit her.
An investigator on scene said it appeared Dashner was following traffic laws, but hit Bowmaster because of the visibility issues.
“We don’t think Tanner intentionally tried to hit her,” said Phillips.
Still, Bowmaster is suing Tanner and his parents, who owned the vehicle, for the medical expenses and ongoing recovery.
“She’s still dealing with orthopedic and neurological doctor’s visits,” Phillips said.
Phillips said Dashner’s attorneys for this case, with the Law Office of John J. Wilke, have not provided requested information or answered questions about the case asked by Phillips, citing the 5th amendment and 14th amendment.
Because Phillips is not pursuing criminal charges, but only payment for Bowmaster’s pain and suffering, he feels Dashner’s attorneys should be more forthcoming with information.
Phillips says he would also like a jury to decide if Dashner veered too far off the road or if Bowmaster was too close to the roadway.
“We’ll let the jury decide who they think was at fault. But clearly car approaching any obstacle should have the better ability to see that obstacle.”
Phillips wants to see Dashner held accountable for this case.
Dashner’s attorneys have not responded to emails requesting comment.