Lawsuits filed again Madison Regatta alleging negligence - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Lawsuits filed again Madison Regatta alleging negligence

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Associated Press

MADISON, Ind. - Nearly two years after a car careened through a throng of speedboat racing fans along the Ohio River, victims have begun alleging negligence in lawsuits filed against Madison Regatta organizers.

Priscilla "Jean" Johnson, of Madison, filed a lawsuit on June 27 against the Madison Regatta Inc. and the American Boat Racing Association. It says Johnson suffered severe and permanent injuries, lost income and endured pain as a result of the crash.

Johnson, 58, was flown to University Hospital in Louisville with head and chest injuries after the July 2 accident. She had open fractures to her extremities and was in critical condition on a ventilator.

David Johnson, her husband, is also named as a plaintiff. He is seeking damages because "he lost the services, society and companionship of his wife."

Both lawsuits allege the Madison Regatta and the racing association "failed to provide reasonable safety precautions for the spectators of the Madison Regatta."

The Madison Regatta and the American Boat Racing Association did not respond to e-mail and telephone requests for comment on Wednesday.

The most seriously injured person, Jennifer Willette, 28, of Madison Heights, Mich., had her left arm and leg amputated. Willette filed a lawsuit similar to Johnson's on June 23.

The lawsuits, which seek unspecified damages, were filed as the two-year statute of limitations was set to expire.

Michael Bowen, the 18-year-old driver of the car that crashed into the crowd, pleaded guilty in April 2007 to three counts of criminal recklessness causing serious bodily injury and three counts of driving while under the influence of a controlled substance.

Bowen admitted to smoking marijuana the night before the crash. Prosecutors dropped charges that he was under the influence of Freon.