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September 1, 2011

City Named in Law Suit Stemming From 2006 'Senior Chase'

Nearly five years after the traditional "senior chase" held on the first day of the new school year came to a screeching halt, one of the participants in that final episode has filed a law suit against a fellow participant as well as the City of Memphis.

According to court documents filed August 19th in the Scotland County Circuit Court, Patrick E. Parsons is seeking to recover costs for medical treatment as well as for the loss of his ability to work and to enjoy life as a direct result of the traffic accident that occurred on August 21, 2006.

Parsons, filed the lawsuit against Emily A. Woods of Arbela, the driver of the car directly behind the vehicle in which he was a passenger during the chase. The City of Memphis was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The petition indicates that Parsons was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Aaron L. Shaffer, which during the senior chase had stopped to avoid an accident in front of the vehicle. The petition states that Wood's vehicle rear-ended the Shaffer vehicle.

The lawsuit claims Woods was driving at speeds in excess of the posted speed limit, was following too closely, and failed to keep a careful lookout resulting in the failure to avoid the accident.

The petition cites the City of Memphis as negligent in the case, highlighting the fact that the chase was led by an officer from the Memphis Police Department who allegedly informed the participants that they could exceed the speed limit.

A six-vehicle traffic accident occurred during the traditional "Senior Chase" just after 8:00 a.m. on Monday, August 21 on Highway 15 north in Memphis near the entrance to the C & C Contracting shop.

According to the accident report made available by the Memphis Police Department, the incident occurred when a long chain of vehicles was northbound on Highway 15 at a high rate of speed behind a Memphis police car with its emergency lights lit.

The procession reportedly crested the hill near the St. Paul Lutheran Church entrance and a chain-reaction crash ensued as the lead vehicles attempted to yield the right-of-way to other traffic. According to the MPD report, the sixth car in the procession was unable to avoid the vehicles in its path, striking the vehicle in front of it and forcing it into two other vehicles further forward in the procession.

A second collision occurred further back in the procession as a Pontiac Firebird driven by Shaffer was struck by a Chevy Camaro driven by Woods. Both cars sustained extensive damage.

According to Scotland County Hospital representatives, three individuals were transported by Scotland County Ambulance to SCH for treatment of injuries.

The Memphis City Council met in executive session Tuesday, August 22, 2006 and by a 4-0 vote, accepted the resignation of the Memphis Police Officer who had led the chase.

The council also voted 4-0 to suspend Memphis City Marshal Steve Snodgrass for a period of 14 working days without pay.

A statement issued by the council indicated that Snodgrass was disciplined for failure to follow a directive issued by the Memphis City Council earlier in the year to cease and desist any involvement of the department in the traditional "senior chases".


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