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Family of mother killed in Old Lyme accident seeks $30M in wrongful death lawsuit

November 30, 2018

The family of a woman who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer after pulling over to the right shoulder on Interstate 95 in Old Lyme and getting out of the car to check on her baby in the backseat on Dec. 1, 2016, is seeking $30 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed Nov. 27 in U.S. District Court in New Haven.

Ashley Ferguson Jones, a 31-year-old native of New London, was the mother of two young children. Her husband, Marshall Jones, and the two children, all of Canterbury, are named as the plaintiffs in the complaint.

The Reardon Law Firm already had brought a lawsuit naming the truck driver, Nicolae Marcu, 49, of Bedford, N.H., as well as the trucking company, MGR Freight System Inc. of Countryside, Ill., according to attorney Kelly Reardon. She said the lawsuit was amended this past week after the firm learned the trucking company owned multiple entities. The latest complaint lists several limited liability corporation names, including MGR MGR Express, MGR Lease, MGR Express, MGR Auto Lease, MGR Truck Rental, MGR Truck Sale, MGR Truck Repair, MGR Logistics, MGR 016, MGR 017 and Plainfield OI4.

The lawsuit alleges that Marcu, an agent of the MGR companies, acted recklessly and negligently by failing to move into the left lane while passing a vehicle parked in the breakdown lane, failing to keep a safe distance from other vehicles, speeding, driving while fatigued, sending or receiving text messages while driving and operating a vehicle with unsafe tires and brakes.

The trucker driver also is facing criminal charges of negligent homicide and failure to drive in the proper lane. His case has been on the docket several times in New London Superior Court, and Reardon said he could plead guilty and be sentenced as soon as January. The Reardon firm has not been able to take a deposition of him in the civil case, Reardon said, because he has exercised his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent while the criminal charges are pending.

Witnesses to the horrific crash told state police that Jones had pulled her Kia Optima fully into the breakdown lane of I-95 south between Exits 70 and 71 to check on her daughter, who was coughing and may have been choking, while eating in the back seat. Jones was leaning into the back seat with the rear driver’s side door open when Marcu drove into the left side of the car, according to the affidavit.

The impact sent Jones 70 feet into the air and ripped one of her legs from her body. She was pronounced deceased at the scene.

According to police, Marcu’s vehicle continued almost 245 feet beyond the point of impact, traveling through a guardrail and into trees. It sustained heavy damage along the way. He was uninjured.

Ferguson’s 1-year-old passenger was taken by ambulance to the Shoreline Medical Center but did not sustain any apparent injury. Tammy Vistrand, 44, of Taftville, a passenger in Ferguson’s vehicle, also was not injured.

Reardon said Jones’ family is struggling.

“They are heavily involved in the church, which has been a great solace to them,” Reardon said.

Jones was baptized at Shiloh Baptist Church in 2014. At the time of her death, she was staying home to care for her young son and daughter, according to Reardon.

“She was a wonderful young woman with a promising future,” Reardon said. “She was very involved with the church and volunteering and attending services.”

Attorneys for the defendants, including Brian Haas of the Howd & Ludorf law firm in Hartford, could not immediately be reached for comment.

k.florin@theday.com

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