Lawsuit filed in fatal Olivette Starbucks crash – Stats show surprising reasons for similar crashes

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OLIVETTE, Mo. – The October 3rd fatal Starbucks crash wasn’t the first time a car went through that location’s storefront, according to a new civil lawsuit.  The lawsuit also names the driver, a Washington University professor emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry.

It was 78-year-old Theodore J. Cicero who reportedly crashed through the front of the Olivette Starbucks.  Cicero did not answer an email or phone call to his Washington University office, but he must answer the Department of Revenue whose office said, “A qualified individual (family member, doctor, law enforcement, etc.) notified our department that he may not be able to safely and responsibly operate a motor vehicle. We sent him notification and now he has to retest.” He has until November 5th.

Glenda Simmons

Widower Joseph Simmons is suing the driver for the wrongful death of his wife, Glenda Simmons. She went inside to get a latte after their trip to McDonald’s.  Joseph watched as a car jumped the curb and crashed through the glass storefront, killing his wife.

A civil lawsuit, just filed, also names the strip mall developer, Keat Properties, saying “This was not the first storefront crash at this Starbucks. Sometime after price crossing opened in 2006, a vehicle… crashed through its glass storefront…. (the driver) mistakenly put the vehicle in drive rather than reverse as she was attempting to back out of the parking spot in front of the store, a common error in these types of crashes.”

Attorney Rich Zalasky, with Brown and Crouppen, filed the lawsuit on behalf of his client Joseph Simmons.

Zalasky asked, “How many times does this have to happen when you have people dying?  And the numbers that are dying and the numbers injured each year.  More than 60 times a day in the United States this occurs, up to 500 fatalities & over 4000 injured in the United States each year from store front crashes.”

He got his numbers from the Storefront Safety Council which found with “vehicle-into-building crashes”

  • 51% of are caused by either operator error or pedal error
  • 16% from DUI
  • 10%” from a traffic accident.

It was a traffic accident that police say led to the October 5th North County crash into a tax business. A possible DUI led to Sunday’s fatal crash into a Ballwin urgent care.

Zalasky said bollards can save lives.  He says he even found bollards behind the Starbucks where his client’s wife died.  He added, “There are bollards there for good reason.”

Keat Properties, had no comment when we called its headquarters.  The Starbucks remains boarded up as people continue leaving flowers in memory of 73-year-old Glenda Simmons.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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