Addison Neesen (as Personal Representative on Behalf of Christopher Neesen, Deceased), v. Town of Butler
June 25, 2010, was a quiet evening in Butler. Park County Schools had let out for the summer a few days before. Now that summer had arrived, students were focused on daily jaunts to the beach, so close to the beach they could make a day of it and still be home by curfew. Sgt. Delaney DeShane was conducting routine patrol operations inside the town limits in addition to supervising the Charlie shift with Butler Police Department (BPD). With Butler being a quiet jurisdiction, Sgt. DeShane spent most of the time dealing with traffic offenses and looking for the odd DUI case. With school letting out, the traffic citations went up, especially with students going back and forth to the beach and trying to beat curfew. As such, on Friday evenings like June 25, 2010, Sgt. DeShane parked on US Highway 52 facing southbound. As an SUV rapidly approached the squad car, DeShane could make out that it belonged to local teen Jamie Adams. As the officer activated the blue lights before even getting the car in gear, DeShane noticed that the Chevrolet SUV didn’t slow down at all. In fact as the tone on the radar system indicated, it was accelerating.
Towards the other end of town, Christopher Neesen, the star soccer player from Butler High School was on his way home from a date after dropping off his girlfriend. He was texting her on the way home. The pursuit coming up US Highway 52 at a high rate of speed arrived at the same time that he entered the intersection. Jamie Adams’ 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe struck the driver’s door of Christopher Neesen’s Dodge Neon SRT4 with catastrophic results. The Dodge was crushed, killing Christopher Neesen. The Tahoe’s occupant, Jamie Adams was injured behind the wheel of the Tahoe. Jamie Adams was transported to MUSC Charleston for care. Coroner Matthews was called to the scene and pronounced Christopher Neesen dead on scene.
While under care at MUSC, Jamie Adams was charged with reckless driving, failure to stop for blue lights, and manslaughter. All blood work was drawn at the time of the accident. The toxicology report showed no alcohol or other narcotics in Jamie’s system.
During the criminal trial, Jamie Adams pled guilty in a negotiated plea to reckless driving, and failure to stop for blue lights. Manslaughter charges were dropped. As a result of the plea, Jamie surrendered driving privileges until 21 years of age, paid a $880.00 fine, and will have to maintain SR-22 Insurance for a period of 3 years following drivers’ license reinstatement.
The estate of Christopher Neesen has sued the Town of Butler and the Butler Police Department for Christopher’s death. Specifically, the estate alleges that but for the reckless pursuit of a minor traffic offense, Christopher would not have died.
At issue in this civil trial is the determination of Butler Police Department’s level of responsibility, if any, for the death of Christopher Neesen. The suit was brought by the Neesen family. The Adams family was also initially listed as a defendant. Through their insurance company, they arrived at a settlement.