Greenwood has begun installing 13 guardrails at roadside ponds in the city, a project that has been in the works for years because of fatal crashes into the water.
The city didn’t require developers to build guardrails at rainwater collection ponds near roads until 2005, so this year’s construction work is intended to make 13 unguarded bodies of water along streets safer for motorists.
Greenwood was working toward that prior to the death of Herkimiah Wimbush, who died after driving into a Greenwood pond in 2011, community services director Mark Richards said. But the city had to wait to get federal funding for the project, which is why the construction didn’t start until last week, he said.
The city chose to install the guardrails where drivers might be most likely to crash into an unprotected pond, such as at the intersection of Worthsville and Averitt roads and the intersection of Apryl Drive and Kimberly Lane.
A pond near the intersection of Graham and Allen roads is where Wimbush, 36, of Greenwood, died. His widow, Anitha Wimbush, later sued Greenwood, saying the city contributed to her husband’s death.
She recently settled out of court with the city, accepting $2,500, city attorney Krista Taggart said.
Anitha Wimbush hadn’t sued for a specific amount of money but asked for funds to pay for medical, funeral, burial and legal expenses, as well as the loss of her husband’s income, his parenting, love and companionship, lawsuit documents said.
The dollar amount of the settlement was low for a wrongful death case, which can result in price tags of $1 million or more if won, Taggart said.
Anitha Wimbush wasn’t likely to win the lawsuit because she would’ve had to prove that neglect from the city contributed to her husband’s death, Taggart said. Still, the city’s insurance company chose to agree to the $2,500 to avoid paying more attorney’s fees, she said. Wimbush’s attorney Stan White declined to comment on the amount of or reason for the settlement.
The city already installed a guardrail at the pond where Wimbush crashed, but it will be replaced with a better one that is designed to meet state highway department standards, Richards said. Contractor C-Tech Corp. of Boggstown should finish installing all 13 guardrails by the end of July, he said.
Greenwood is paying for the guardrail work with approximately $196,000 in federal money and about $22,000 in local funds, including tax money and a donation from a school.
Nearly $3,600 in donations from Clark Elementary School students will cover the cost of inspections and some unforeseen hand digging needed to install posts, Richards said.
The students raised the money for the guardrail project because one of Wimbush’s children attended the elementary school.