Courts • Family of Diane Berg say unsafe snow removal, poor on-ramp design led to her death.
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The family of a Holladay woman who died after her car went off Interstate 215 in January 2011 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Utah Department of Transportation for allegedly creating unsafe conditions.
Diane Berg, 40, had just merged from the 3900 South on-ramp to go north on the I-215 East belt route early on Jan. 4 when she lost control of her SUV, which left an overpass and crashed upside-down onto 3900 South.
Berg's family alleges in the lawsuit filed in 3rd District on Wednesday that unsafe snow removal processes and poor design of the on-ramp caused the death of the woman, who left behind a husband and three children, all named as plaintiffs in the suit.
The on-ramp makes a tight curve and straightens out as it merges with the freeway. As soon as Berg's SUV merged with freeway traffic, she over-corrected to the right and hit a concrete retaining wall, the Utah Highway Patrol said at the time of the accident.
The SUV rode up onto the top of the three-foot retaining wall and slid along for about 40 feet before rolling over the wall and falling off the overpass, according to UHP officials, who said following the crash that speed was believed to have been a factor.
But the lawsuit states that "Berg found herself in a 'no escape' situation which caused her vehicle to be propelled toward and over the safety structures ..."
The family alleges in the lawsuit that snow packed against the barricades and guard rails of the freeway created a ramp that propelled Berg's car up and over the guard rail. They also blame the design of the on-ramp as a contributor to the woman's death, calling it "unreasonably dangerous."
Tanya Mashburn, with UDOT, said their office has not yet reviewed the lawsuit.
"Safety is extremely important to us on all our roads," she said. "It is our top priority."
Berg's family did not ask for a specific amount of money in the lawsuit, but said the amount is in excess of $300,firstname.lastname@example.org