Driver who killed triathlete was on the phone, suit alleges

December 23, 2016

Bridget Dawson

Bridget Dawson

A lawsuit filed by the family of triathlete Bridget Dawson alleges the driver who struck and killed the champion competitor was on the phone at the time of the crash. [Tribune]

Phone records show Oceano resident Lisa Smith, 53, was was speaking with her employer, Dignity Health, according to the lawsuit. Assistant District Attorney Lee Cunningham also confirmed cellular records showed Smith was using the phone at the approximate time of the crash.

On July 14, shortly before 7 p.m., Smith’s car drifted onto the shoulder of Highway 227 and struck Dawson, 58, who was riding a bicycle. Dawson was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.

Initially, investigators said they did not believe Smith was texting or on the phone at the time of the accident. But, Smith was later charged with a single misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter. The criminal case is ongoing, and Smith is due back in court on Jan. 9.

Relatives of Dawson are suing Smith, as well as Dignity Health.

The lawsuit does not specify whether Smith initiated or received the call that allegedly prompted the crash. Also, it is not clear with whom Smith was speaking.

French Hospital, which is owned by Dignity Health, reportedly refused to provide any information to CHP investigators about Smith’s alleged phone call.

Dawson was a champion triathlete who led her age group in the 2012 World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. She also won at the U.S. Duathlon Championships from 2013 to 2016. Dawson had been a competitive rider and racer for 31 years, according to the lawsuit.

The triathlete was married to Scott Dawson, the former dean of Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. Scott Dawson left Cal Poly in October to move back to the couple’s previous home state of Oregon.

Dawson’s family is seeking damages to cover lost financial support and funeral expenses, as well as the loss of Bridget Dawson’s love and companionship. Court hearings in the civil case are not due to begin until April.







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11 Comments

  1. diamond says:

    Responding to Frederick, The under direction to comply by Dignity defense speculation is obsurd. It takes 5 seconds to pull over. Or just believe your superior skills don’t need to obey the law, then kill someone. Arrogance can be deadly. No fo overs here. No phone call is more important than a life, zero excuses.

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. Frederick1337 says:

    Dignity health is not the most competent employer. Obviously this woman was under some instruction to comply with company regulations that required her to call in to work for whatever reason. I would sue Dignity Health for their policy.

    (-9) 13 Total Votes - 2 up - 11 down
  3. still laughing says:

    She said she was praying! Christians don’t lie do they?

    (4) 18 Total Votes - 11 up - 7 down
  4. Russ J says:

    Segregated bike lanes, segregated bike lanes, segregated bike lanes! People will continue to die because all our money is spent on salaries and pensions instead of cool things that saves lives and brings joy to so many.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_infrastructure#/media/File:Gonzaga_ciclovia.jpg

    (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
    • ffarmchicken says:

      Class 1 bike lanes is what is most popular. Class 2 and 3 are nothing but death traps. A white line will not protect you from a txting driver, neither will hiring more cops.

      (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
  5. azuresees says:

    Sue Dignity Health? Of COURSE they are… They have M-O-N-E-Y. That’s what that’s all about. The driver should be sued, but to go after the other end of a phone call? Sounds typical for a California lawyer….

    (10) 34 Total Votes - 22 up - 12 down
    • SLO_Johnny says:

      What would you do if your spouse was rammed from behind and launched over a hundred feet off of their bicycle? Naming Dignity Health in the complaint forces them to cooperate with the state criminal investigation and to hand over any and all information.

      (14) 34 Total Votes - 24 up - 10 down
      • kayaknut says:

        A search warrant signed by a judge would force the release of any needed information and there would be no need to name entities not responsible, this is clearly a money grab.

        (10) 18 Total Votes - 14 up - 4 down
      • topper01 says:

        What law school did you graduate from?

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  6. Ricky2 says:

    Lock up Dignity Health! Those fake-non-profit profiteers deserve it.

    (-2) 18 Total Votes - 8 up - 10 down
  7. diamond says:

    It should not matter If French hospital made the initial call or received it from the distracted driver. She made the selfish decision to call or answer her phone while driving. Every human on the planet over the age of 10 knows you’re not supposed use your phone while driving, even though most of the population thinks the law doesn’t apply to them.

    (42) 48 Total Votes - 45 up - 3 down

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