Wrongful death case involving speeding deputy continues after plea deal in criminal case
A former Kern County Sheriff’s deputy has pleaded “no contest” in connection with a crash that killed a 72-year-old Oildale woman in 2014, a crash also connected to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Clark on behalf of her family.
Nicholas Clerico will receive three years probation, must pay a $570 fine and serve 240 hours of community service after pleading no contest on April 25 to a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter.
Chain | Cohn | Clark filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of Nancy Joyce Garrett, who was killed when Clerico struck and killed her in his speeding patrol car. The filing came after the California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) report found Deputy Clerico at fault in the September 2014 crash, at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale.
“In talking with the family, they’re glad that (Clerico) has finally accepted some responsibility for what he did,” Clark told The Bakersfield Californian, adding that the family, however, has not received closure, and continues to mourn Garrett’s loss. “This was no accident. This was totally preventable.”
Family members have described Nancy as a friendly neighbor, a caregiver for our community, an active blogger, and the pillar of her family. She was a drug and alcohol counselor for the Kern County Mental Health Department, and also volunteered her time as a substance abuse counselor for STEPS, a local nonprofit that provides DUI awareness services. At the time of the crash, she was returning home from a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game she attended with her family and friends.
Garrett’s family is seeking changes within the sheriff’s department in how deputies are trained to drive. Her death, unfortunately, is not the only one related to driving by Kern County Sheriff’s deputies.
- Larry Maharrey was killed when Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Gomez abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive in Oildale directly into Maharrey’s motorcycle. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with Deputy Gomez’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash. That wrongful death case represented by Chain | Cohn | Clark, is ongoing.
- Daniel Hiler and Chrystal Jolley were killed in December 2011 when Kern County sheriff’s deputy John Swearengin struck and killed them as they pushed a motorcycle across Norris Road. Swearengin was traveling at more than 80 mph in a 45-mph zone, without activating his emergency lights or siren. Chain | Cohn | Clark settled that case in March 2014 for $8.8 million.
UPDATE – 2020: The wrongful death case on behalf of the family of Nancy Joyce Garrett has resolved.
PLEA DEAL MEDIA COVERAGE
- Former deputy takes plea deal in crash that killed Oildale woman (The Bakersfield Californian – April 25, 2017) (PDF newspaper version)
- Former Kern County Sheriff’s deputy takes plea deal in 2014 fatal crash (KGET-17, NBC – April 25, 2017)
- Former KCSO deputy involved in 2014 deadly Oildale crash takes plea deal (KERO-23, ABC – April 25, 2017) (YouTube video)
- Attorney: Former deputy will get probation, community service and fine for deadly crash (KBAK/KBFX, CBS/FOX, April 25, 2017)
PAST CASE MEDIA COVERAGE
- CHP recommends manslaughter charge against deputy in fatal crash (The Bakersfield Californian – July 9, 2015)
- CHP: Kern County deputy had red light in deadly crash (KBAK-29 CBS, KBFX-58 FOX, BakersfieldNow.com – July 8, 2015)
- CHP: Deputy entered intersection against red light, was going 85 mph (KUZZ News)
- FIRST LOOK: Local attorney to represent victim’s children in wrongful death suit, filed against county (The Bakersfield Californian – July 14, 2015)
- Crash victim’s family sues Kern County Sheriff’s Office deputy (KERO-23, ABC – July 15, 2015)
- Lawsuit filed by family of woman killed when speeding deputy ran red light (The Bakersfield Californian – July 14, 2015)
- Family of woman killed in Oildale seeking damages from KCSO (KUZZ News)
- Deputies’ dispute may boost lawsuit (The Bakersfield Californian – Jan. 10, 2016)