A former Essex resident is suing the town and its police department for negligence over its refusal to accept liability for 2016 crash in which he claims a police cruiser hit him while he was riding his bike.
The complaint, filed in Chittenden Superior Court earlier this month, says Colin Dees was biking along Maple Street on the early evening of April 7, 2016 when he was hit by an Essex police cruiser driven by Edward Piro. The suit names the town, the department and Piro and seeks unspecified damages.
The suit claims Piro’s visibility was obstructed by a partially fogged windshield and “aftermarket equipment.” It says Piro he failed to stop at a stop sign just prior to the crash. The suit says Dees had the right of way and was riding his bicycle in a legal manner.
Dees, who now lives in Pennsylvania, has suffered “severe chronic pain and severe emotional injuries,” which have negatively impacted his “lifestyle and personal relationships,” the suit says. He was also unable to work for an extended period of time as a result of the crash.
The complaint notes the town of Essex has insurance through the Vermont League of Cities and Towns. But two years later, the town continues to deny responsibility for Dees’ injury, the suit claims, adding this “behavior is outrageous and has added to the infliction of severe emotional distress.”
Joshua Martin, an attorney representing Dees, did not immediately return a call for comment earlier this week.
It’s unclear if details of the crash were ever publicized. The department’s weekly media log from April 2016 shows EPD responded to an “accident” on Maple Street roughly 20 minutes after the suit claims the crash occurred. But The Reporter was unable to find any media reports detailing the incident, nor could it locate any press release on the town’s website mentioning the crash.
Piro was one of two EPD veterans to accept a buyout earlier this year, offered to employees at least 60 years old who have served EPD for 20 years or more. He has since stayed on at the department part-time.
The town has yet to file a response. Voicemails for police Chief Rick Garey and municipal manager Evan Teich went unreturned.