FAIR HAVEN SPARED IN SUIT OVER RACE DEATH
Racers during last September’s Tour de Fair Haven. Cole Porter, below, died after an accident in the first race that day. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A lawsuit by the estate of the Shrewsbury man who died after a crash during the Tour de Fair Haven last September does not name Fair Haven as a defendant, contrary to an earlier report that the town would be sued for $10 million.
A civil complaint filed Wednesday on behalf of cyclist Cole Porter‘s widow and two children instead names the race organizer, event sponsors and the race official Porter slammed into on September 15, resulting in injuries that led to his death less than three weeks later.
With litigation pending, Mayor Ben Lucarelli said he he does not expect the popular event to return for a sixth running this year.
Attorney Ray Gill of Sea Bright filed the suit, which seeks unspecified damages, in state Superior Court in Middlesex County. He told the Star-Ledger he filed there because USA Cycling, one of the defendants, frequently holds events there.
According to the Tour de Fair Haven website, USA Cycling, a membership-based organization, sanctioned the race. Also sued were event promoter Cycles 54, a Wall Township bike shop, and its owner; tour organizer Michele Berger, and his Fair Haven-based technology firm, Forefront; Circle BMW, which supplied the pace car and drivers; and “lead race official” Daniel Donnelly, with whom Porter collided on River Road, at the end of the first lap of the first day’s race.
According to a statement by Gill, the drivers were “untrained in bicycle race pace-vehicle operation,” and driving “inappropriately equipped pace cars.”
From Gill’s statement:
The borough wasn’t sued, Gill said, because “there was no evidence to suggest [it was] actively involved in the wanton and reckless disregard of the rules of USA Cycling rules.”
The possibility of judgments against race organizers and sponsors makes a 2014 edition of the five-year-old event unlikely, Lucarelli told redbankgreen before the suit was filed.
The crash was also the second in three years in which a rider was medevaced from the scene, he noted.
Berger, who also heads the Fair Haven Business Association, was said to be traveling Thursday and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here’s the complaint, preceded by a press statement by Gill: Porter v USA Cycling 010814