Parents Sue Utica Over Pursuit That Killed Teenage Daughter

The family of a Utica High School junior killed in a 2011 car crash has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Utica and three former Utica police officers.

Hannah Gattrell died when the pickup truck she was a passenger in crashed into a tree as police were in pursuit on a Licking County road. The truck was driven by Gattrell’s boyfriend, Spencer Lorenza, who was being pursued by officers due to a fight during a Utica football game.

The pursuit allegedly reached 70 mph with three separate police cruisers. The roads that were driven on had posted speed limits of 15 mph due to dangerous turns and the suit alleges that the officers failed to call off the pursuit “when it became apparent that the risks to officer safety and the safety of others outweighed the danger to the community if the suspect was not apprehended.”

Lorenza was charged in juvenile court a year before the crash with running a red light and reckless operation. He had lost his license for a period of time due to the charge.

In the case of the fatal crash that killed Hannah Gattrell, Lorenza was found guilty of delinquency charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated vehicular homicide, failure to comply with a police officer and assault. He has been sentenced to probation until his 21st birthday and his driving privileges are suspended until he is 20. Lorenza has also been ordered to serve 100 hours of community service and pay restitution of $10,152.

The wrongful death lawsuit seeks $25,000 for mental anguish and funeral and medical expenses. “Hannah Gattrell’s death was a senseless tragedy,” said the family’s lawyer in an email.

It is unknown why Utica police pursued this high-speed pursuit outside of their jurisdiction on a very dangerous roadway. The family wants answers and believes that this lawsuit will help.

If you’ve lost your loved one due to the negligence of another individual, call our Ohio wrongful death attorneys at 800.637.8170. Our legal team has extensive experience with wrongful death claims and can help your family receive the compensation that is deserved. 

Charles Boyk
is a personal injury attorney and author practicing law in Ohio. 419-241-1395
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