A grieving Tennessee father had his wounds reopened when he received a bill for the defective guardrail that killed his daughter just months before.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation apologized for sending a bill to Hannah Eimers, who died November 1 when the guardrail impaled her car.
Stephen Eimers, the 17-year-old’s father, said he was “flabbergasted” that TDOT would “bill my daughter for the defective device that killed her,” according to The Tennessean.
— The Tennessean (@Tennessean) March 25, 2017
The teen had been driving on Interstate 75 North when her car left the road, traveled into the median and hit the end of the guardrail with the driver’s side door, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report.
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Instead of deflecting the car or buckling to absorb the impact, the guardrail end impaled the vehicle, striking Hannah in the head and chest and pushing her into the back seat, according to the report. She died instantly.
The Volvo spun to the right and ‘took out approximately 15 to 20 feet of guardrail’ before it skidded to a stop facing the southbound lanes on the shoulder with the rail still stuck inside the vehicle, the report reads.
Four months later, Hannah’s father received a $2,970 bill from TDOT, dated Feb. 24 and addressed to Hannah, for the cost of labor and materials to install 25 feet of guardrail at the scene of the crash.
“They had the audacity to send us a bill in her name for $3,000 for killing her,” he told WVLT-TV.
Although the particular guardrail end model that Hannah’s car hit was removed by the TDOT from its approved products list just one week before the crash, there’s still about 1,000 guardrail ends on Tennessee roads, according to Nagi.
“TDOT knew this was dangerous and that it wasn’t performing well,” Eimers told WVLT. “They should have removed it, but their policy was to leave it on the road, playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.”
The TDOT is reportedly looking for a contractor to remove the remaining guardrails beginning March 31.
As for the bill to cover the cost of the damaged rail, Nagi said it was due to a processing error and Eimers is not expected to pay it.
“That was a mistake,” Nagi said. “It never should have happened. We’ll take measures to make sure that never happens again.”
And for Hannah’s heartbroken father, he is determined to do what he can to make sure another tragedy like the one that took his daughter’s life never happens again.
“I’ve got to be able to look the next mom or dad in the eye and say I tried to make some changes in the culture of TDOT, I tried to get some dangerous devices off the road,” he said.
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