SARASOTA, Florida - The family of a woman has filed a lawsuit against the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, claiming their negligence led to her death.
Donna Chen was hit and killed in January while she was jogging along Midnight Pass Road. According to investigators, a drunk driver slammed into Chen.
The family's attorney, Damian Mallard, believes authorities were negligent when they told the driver, Blake Talman, to leave Siesta Key beach that day. According to Mallard, deputies instructed Blake and his friend to "go home or go to jail."
"By directing these young men to leave or get arrested, we believe that what they did in essence was indirectly tell them to get in their car and drive. That created a risk to the general public by obviously having very intoxicated persons driving," said Mallard.
10 News reached out to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office who released this statement:
"It's SCSO policy not to comment on pending litigation. We have not been served as of today with a suit. We are aware of a potential suit by the pre-suit filing letter we received."
Colette MacPhail, Chen's sister-in-law, hopes the suit will eventually lead to changes in the way similar situations are approached, so Chen's death would not be in vain.
"For all of us who loved her dearly and whose lives have changed forever, we need to make it right. We need to make it right," said MacPhail.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has 30 days to respond to the suit. If an agreement is not reached, it could go to trial, possibly around this same time next year.