Crash blamed on turtle brings $750,000 judgment

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A woman has been awarded $750,000 by a jury for injuries she received in an auto accident that police say was caused by another driver's fascination with a turtle.
Barbara Gilpin of Stow was seriously injured in June 1998 when a pickup truck driven by Delores Fay collided with her station wagon.
Police said Fay initially told officers she was distracted by a pet turtle in her truck and noticed too late that Gilpin's vehicle had stopped to turn.
The 40-year-old Gilpin's injuries included fractured ribs, punctured lungs and brain and nerve damage. She was in intensive care for two weeks after the accident.
Stow Detective Douglas Dawes testified that Fay told him at the scene that she had looked at the turtle before the accident. In her later statement, she said the accident was caused when Gilpin attempted to make a left turn out of a curb lane.
Gilpin had no memory of the events leading up to the crash and there were no witnesses, said Gilpin's lawyer, David Bertsch.
During the trial, Fay testified that she told Dawes she did not see the turtle until after the accident, Bertsch said.
The jury in the Summit County Common Pleas Court deliberated only an hour after a three-day trial that ended Thursday.
The verdict was against Republic Franklin Insurance Co. of Utica, N.Y., which insured Gilpin's husband's company. Since Fay had only $12,500 in liability insurance from Progressive Insurance, Gilpin collected that amount and sought payments from her carrier, Grange Insurance, and Republic Franklin. She received $6,250 from Grange.
Republic Franklin lawyer Mark Greer said the company is considering an appeal.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)