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PA transport agency sued over death of motorcyclist after road crew left ditch without warning

Pennsylvania Transportation Agency dug a ditch and didn’t tell anyone, and it cost the life of a motorcyclist, the victim’s family has said in a new civil lawsuit.

Leslie Gingrich, a mother of three who was training for her commercial driver’s license, was riding her Harley to class along a narrow, winding state road in early June when she hit a ditch left by a PennDOT crew from the weeks earlier. She had no warning and no chance to avoid it, her family said.

PennDOT “ignored the danger” it created and put Gingrich and many other motorists at risk, attorney Albert Evans, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Gingrich’s children, said in an interview Friday. telephone. The family seeks unspecified damages.

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A message has been sent to PennDOT seeking comment.

PennDOT had dug this section of road when replacing a drain pipe under State Route 895 near Auburn, Schuylkill County. The crew backfilled the cut but did not pave it, and the gravel was then washed away, residents said.

Residents also said PennDOT was aware of the danger – which got worse over time – but did nothing to fix it. The agency also did not place any signage warning motorists of the cutoff.

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The 7 to 10 foot wide ditch spanned both lanes of the road and had a very uneven surface, with a lip of about 2 inches. It was at the foot of a small hill and shaded by trees, out of sight.

The Pennsylvania State Route 895 ditch, six days before the incident that killed motorcyclist Leslie Gingrich.
(Dave Heim via AP)

Gingrich hit him at around 35 mph in a 40 mph zone and lost control, the family said in their lawsuit. She was not wearing a helmet, although Evans said she suffered unrelated internal injuries.

After the accident, PennDOT said it was investigating work performed at the site “to determine if all policies and procedures were followed.” It is not known if this review has been completed. The agency declined to comment since being notified that she was being prosecuted over the accident.

The wrongful death lawsuitwhich was filed Thursday in Schuylkill County Court, alleges PennDOT was negligent by failing to install proper signage, leaving construction unfinished for so long and failing to respond to complaints it received about the site before the fatal wreckage.

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A crew returned to pave the ditch shortly after Gingrich’s death.

“It was something that could have been finished very quickly,” Evans said. “It should have been finished long before Ms. Gingrich was exposed to it.”