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Fatal crash settlement leads to policy changes in Isle of Palms

The widow of a man who was killed when his moped ran into the back of an Isle of Palms police car in 2016 recently received a written apology from the police force, along with a notice of a policy change. 

The change came as part of a wrongful death settlement received by Phillip Wallace’s widow, Naomi Wallace.

The Isle of Palms Police Department said in the notice that they will no longer allow police vehicles to park in the breakdown lane on highways at night without lights.

“It will be our official procedure that police vehicles will be illuminated with headlights, running lights and, if appropriate, emergency lights,” Chief Kimberly Usry said in the notice.

Wallace died in October 2016 after the moped he was riding clipped the rear corner of a police cruiser that was parked on the shoulder of a highway. He had moved over to let a larger vehicle pass him. He was thrown from the moped onto the roadway where another passing car struck and killed him.

Wallace’s wife filed the wrongful death suit in 2017, saying the officers were responsible for not acting quickly enough to remove him from the roadway.

Isle of Palms settled the suit for $450,000 and the insurance company of the driver who fatally struck Wallace paid an additional $300,000.

“Naomi wanted justice and change in the wake of Phil’s tragic death and she finally received it,” said Mount Pleasant attorney Kevin Dean, who represented Naomi in the case. “The policy change also demonstrates what can be achieved through civil litigation. We are proud of the outcome of this case and that the policy will prevent future similar deaths on the Isle of Palms Connector. I commend Naomi for her strength in seeing the case through and achieving this change.”

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