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Town blames driver error for fatal accident at marina

November 13, 2018

GREENWICH — A family suing the town of Greenwich over an 80-year-old man’s drowning death at the Cos Cob Marina says that a lack of concrete barriers or fencing at the water’s edge was the cause of his death over three years ago.

But in court papers submitted earlier this month, the town’s legal team maintains that the blame for the accident could be placed, in whole or in part, on the driver himself and on a family member.

The court filing by the town of Greenwich states that Patrick Conroy, 80, of Wall, N.J., was responsible for the accident that led to his death in September 2015. Conroy, who was behind the wheel of a van near the water’s edge, “failed to make reasonable and proper use of his senses and faculties, failed to be watchful of his surroundings, failed to exercise reasonable care for his safety ... which was the greater cause of the injuries and damages ... than any negligence attributable to the town of Greenwich,” the court papers state.

While Conroy was maneuvering the van, as part of a family boating trip, the vehicle ended up sliding down the embankment into the water. His son, John, and other family members were present when the accident took place.

The court filing from the town also cites the actions of John Conroy during the incident. It says he “allowed Patrick Conroy to operate a vehicle he was unfamiliar with” and failed to prevent his father from “driving the vehicle in the direction of water.” John Conroy jumped into the water in an attempt to pull his father out of the van but was unsuccessful.

The Conroy’s lawsuit cites “negligence and carelessness” by the town of Greenwich for the fatal accident, saying that a wall or fence should have been placed at the marina to prevent accidents like the one that claimed the life of Patrick Conroy. The lawsuit cites “negligence and carelessness” by the town.

The six family members who were at the Cos Cob Marina at the time of the fatal accident are plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the town, claiming they suffered emotional distress and other maladies as a result of witnessing the accident. The town’s legal team is asking the family members to provide documented evidence of emotional distress, such as payment for counseling services or medical reports. The town’s lawyers are also requesting specific instances of showing “diminution in your enjoyment of life.”

The Conroy family, from northern Westchester County, N.Y., were planning a day of boating and were preparing to launch their boat at the town-owned marina when the accident occurred.

The law firm representing the Conroys has also put forward an offer to settle the case, as part of the legal process, but the town has not accepted any offers. The offer for a compromised settlement from the Conroy’s lawyer would require a payment of $2.5 million to John Conroy, the man’s son; $1 million to his wife, and $500,000 to each of the four children.

According to the court calendar, the civil case could be on for a jury trial in April.

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