2005 ATV accident leads to multiple lawsuits

PALMER, Alaska - The parents of a Wasilla teenager killed in an accident in August 2005 are suing the driver of the all-terrain vehicle he was riding, the driver's uncle and mother, and the driver of the car that hit them.

Cole Blakely, 15, was the passenger on a four-wheeler driven by a girl, now 16, across the Parks Highway at Pittman Road, according to news reports and court filings. A 1981 AMC Eagle driven by Legan Howard of Wasilla, according to news reports and court filings, hit them.

Blakely and the driver were taken to a hospital, where the boy later died.

Alaska State Troopers at the time said Howard was continuing through the intersection behind a pickup that was turning when the four-wheeler was hit.

A troopers spokesman said at the time that Howard apparently did nothing wrong.

On Aug. 1 Frank Schlenhofer filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of Blakely's mother, Martha Jones. On Aug. 2 another lawyer, Steve Sims, filed suit on behalf Blakely's father, Mace Blakely.

Jones' suit alleges Howard was driving too fast and didn't look before entering the intersection.

Blakely cites witness testimony regarding Howard's poor driving habits.

But both suits focus most of their attention on outlining the allegations of negligence on the part of the ATV driver, her uncle, Mark Tatum and her mother, Kristina Kae Delaney. Each asks for more than $100,000 in damages.

"It's just more of these Valley problems of parents and people allowing their children that are 14 to drive tandem on the Parks Highway with a four-wheeler," Sims said.

Sims referred further questions regarding details of the case to the court files.

"Martha Jones went to the hospital in Palmer to see her son. While at the hospital she felt physically sick and nauseous," Schlenhofer wrote. "She saw her son lying down with blood on him and hooked up to medical equipment."

In Blakely's complaint, Sims wrote that Tatum, the four-wheeler's owner, and Delaney, were reckless when they let the girl drive without a helmet, proper driving instruction or a license. Schlenhofer wrote much the same.