Teen Model's Family Claims City Responsible in Fatal Crash

Evelyn Courtney, 19, died when the car she was riding in crashed with a fire engine at Midland and Poway Road on June 20

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    NBC 7 News
    Images of Evelyn Courtney - the 19-year-old aspiring model from Poway who died in a deadly traffic collision in June 2013.

    The family of a teenage model, killed last year in a traffic collision with a fire engine, is preparing to sue the city of Poway because they claim the person driving the engine was not properly trained.

    Evelyn Courtney, 19, died when the car she was riding in crashed with a fire engine at Midland and Poway Road on June 20.

    The man driving the car Courtney was under the influence of drugs and ran the red light.

    That's when the fire engine collided with the car, killing Courtney.

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    New forensic findings have lead to charges and the arrest of 44-year-old Robbie Gillespie in the death of 19-year-old aspiring model Evelyn Courtney of Poway. NBC 7's Dave Summer reports. (Published Friday, Aug. 2, 2013)

    Michael Kinslow, the family's attorney, said there's evidence the fire truck's driver had not yet passed the test to be the engineer operator of that vehicle.

    He said the family filed a complaint accusing the city of allowing a Poway firefighter to operate a fire engine without proper training. However, the city rejected the complaint.

    So now, Courtney’s parents plan to go forward with a civil suit.

    “The fire truck has to be controlled in a way that it won't hit cars in an intersection regardless of the driver of the passenger car,” said Kinslow. “The city had the responsibility that the fire truck was operating in a safe manner.”

    He said he has information the fire truck was using its lights, but not its sirens. He believes the sirens should have been on.

    The assistant city manager of Poway could not comment on the case even though the claim was rejected.

    Damages sought have not yet been determined.

    Robbie Gillespie, 45, pleaded guilty in September to vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence.

    Gillespie admitted to NBC 7 in a jailhouse interview that he used methamphetamine the day of the incident but thought he was sober enough to get behind the wheel.

    The San Diego medical examiner's report also indicated Courtney's blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit.

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