The family of a man severely injured in the 2008 El Tour de Tucson bicycle race has filed a lawsuit against numerous municipalities in southern Arizona, including Oro Valley, Marana and Pima County.
Surprise resident Gary Stuebe was a contestant in the race on Nov. 22, 2008, when a 91-year-old motorist struck him and at least five other racers at the intersection of Ina Road and Westward Look Drive. The driver then fled the scene of the accident.
The driver, William Arthur Wilson, was sentenced to three years probation in June and forced to surrender his driver's license.
Stuebe suffered multiple injuries to his head and body. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital and underwent numerous surgeries. His medical expenses ran in excess of $1.2 million, according to his attorney Stephen I. Leshner.
In a claim letter Leshner sent to the town of Oro Valley, he said Stuebe's family would settle out of court for $32 million. The town did not agree to the settlement.
Leshner wrote in the claim letter that Oro Valley and the participating municipalities were negligent and reckless in the design and preparation of a traffic control plan employed on race day in 2008.
Stuebe's attorney singled out a Pima County Sheriff's deputy who was in charge of traffic enforcement at Ina and Westward Look at the time of the crash.
The attorney wrote that the deputy was speaking with occupants of a car parked in the westbound lanes of Ina Road at the time of the accident. At that time, Williams and other drivers were making left turns from Ina onto Westward Look.
Leshner contends that vegetation in the median prevented the drivers from seeing the oncoming cyclists, Stuebe included.
"The negligence of Pima County regarding this roadway hazard does not excuse the negligence of Mr. Wilson," Leshner wrote in the claim letter.
Stuebe's family and those of other injured cyclists also have filed lawsuits against Wilson and Perimeter Cycling Association of America, the group that organizes the annual race.
Stuebe's family filed the suit against Oro Valley, Tucson, South Tucson, Marana, Pima County and the state of Arizona on Nov. 20.