Parents file suit over fatal crash

— The parents of a 12-year-old boy hit and killed by a truck while riding his bike to school in South Oceanside are suing the driver and two businesses over the fatal incident.

Gregory Lipton and Erika Seale also filed a claim in March against the city of Oceanside, saying it may have contributed to the dangerous road conditions that led to the crash. The claim — typically a precursor to a lawsuit — was rejected by city officials in mid-May.

Logan Lipton, an avid surfer and soccer player, was riding south on Coast Highway to Lincoln Middle School about 7 a.m. Oct. 22 when a 2015 Dodge Ram 3500 pulling out of the Oceanside RV Park struck and killed him.

Police said the truck driver, David Palpant, apparently did not see the boy. Palpant stopped to offer aid and Logan was airlifted to a hospital, where he later died.

Attorney Ryan Harris said Logan’s parents want to make sure changes are made so that other families don’t suffer the same tragedy.

“That’s purpose of our system, it’s to hold people accountable,” Harris said.

The lawsuit, filed March 18, alleges Palpant was not paying attention when he drove out of the property.

Palpant’s attorney, Michael Poskowitz, said there were many factors that led to the tragedy, including shrubs and a cinder block fence that obstructed his client’s view as he exited the RV park.

“There’s a myriad of issues that will have to be litigated,” Poskowitz said. “This has caused him a lot of heartache. He is very remorseful for what occurred.”

The lawsuit also names Oceanside RV Park and West Coast Tire and Wheel Inc., an auto shop just south of the RV park exit. Representatives from those businesses did not return calls seeking comment Friday.

The family is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, plus medical, funeral, legal and other costs.

The city is indirectly mentioned in the suit as the “public entity” responsible for the roadway. The suit says Logan’s death “was proximately caused by the dangerous condition” of the roadway and that the public entity failed to correct the situation.

Harris said the family is still trying to determine whether to include the city in the lawsuit. He it’s still not clear who would have been responsible for removing the wall to give drivers a better view or installing a stop sign to prevent them from making unsafe turns onto the road.

In the claim against the city, the family said the city failed “to provide safe crossing areas for pedestrians and bicyclists along a busy stretch of South Coast Highway, (failed) to provide adequate warnings and safety devices for motorists to be made aware of crossing pedestrians and bicyclists and (failed) to provide bicycle-friendly paths.”

The claim was seeking damages in excess of $25,000.

City Attorney John Mullen said the claim was rejected because it was not submitted within a 45-day window after the incident. He said the city is not a party to the case at this point.

“If the city is named as a defendant, we are confident that the city will be dismissed,” Mullen said. “This was a tragic event, but not one caused by the city.”

In court documents, the RV park owners denied any responsibility for the incident.

After the crash, some South Oceanside residents argued the stretch of Coast Highway from Oceanside Boulevard to Morse Street — a section called “the dip” — wasn’t safe for bicyclists and started a campaign called the Logan Lipton Bike Path Initiative to lobby the city to improve road safety.

In April, the city re-striped a half-mile section of the road, reducing the number of vehicle lanes from four to two. Other improvements include a left-turn center lane, an eight-foot bicycle lane in each direction and an eight-foot buffer between the vehicle and bicycle lanes.

City officials approved the changes as a pilot project that will allow them to evaluate what might happen if all of Coast Highway was turned into a two-lane road, as proposed in the city’s Coast Highway Vision and Strategic Plan. The city spent about $128,000 on the project.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Oct. 14 at the Vista courthouse.

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