Family of 'Mr. Downtown' files wrongful death suit against UTA and driver
The family of 82-year-old businessman Richard Wirick known as "Mr. Downtown" for his longtime support of the Salt Lake City business community has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Utah Transit Authority and the UTA driver who allegedly ran over and killed Wirick last year.
Wirick was walking in a crosswalk at 200 East and 400 South on Feb. 21, 2012, when the traffic signals changed.
A UTA bus, driven by Cheryl Anne Kidd, accelerated through the intersection, hitting Wirick in the far right westbound lane of 400 South, according to a police report. He was trapped under the bus and died later that day.
Kidd, 50, has pleaded not guilty to charges of negligent operation causing personal injury, a class B misdemeanor, and failing to yield the right of way at a crosswalk, an infraction.
A pretrial conference has been set in the criminal case for Oct. 4 before Salt Lake City Justice Court Judge L.G. Cutler. If convicted, Kidd faces up to six months in jail.
Kidd claims she did not see Wirick, and there was no evidence she had been driving under the influence, according to police.
UTA terminated Kidd on March 15, 2012, but has declined to comment on the circumstances other than to say that each case is evaluated individually and drivers are not automatically terminated for involvement in a fatal crash.
UTA spokesman Remi Barron said Thursday he could not comment on the wrongful death suit because the litigation was pending.
Wirick's three sons are named as plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit that was filed this week in 3rd District Court. The lawsuit claims Kidd was not paying attention, and "did not even notice [Wirick] as she accelerated through the 100 foot wide intersection, before hitting Wirick and dragging his body for more than 40 feet."
"Had Ms. Kidd being paying attention, Richard probably would still be alive today," the lawsuit states.
Wirick was pinned under the bus for more than 40 minutes before rescue workers were able to lift the bus off him. He died at a hospital.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified economic and punitive damages.
The sons state in the lawsuit that their family and the entire Salt Lake community suffered "a tremendous loss" when their father was killed.
"Richard had no plans to retire at the time of his death," the lawsuit states. "Although Richard was 82 when he was killed, he was in good health and was expected to live for many more years."
Wirick owned the Oxford Shop shoe store, at 65 W. 100 South, for nearly six decades.