MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The Virginia driver who struck a tent full of sleeping women and killed one of them at Preston County's All Good Music Festival admits that he lost control of his pickup but denies responsibility for the incident.
In a response to federal lawsuits filed by the victims, 20-year-old Clay Lewin of Cape Charles, Va., blames the parking and security agents who told him to park on a steep, grassy slope near tents and other vehicles. They were there when he arrived, he says, but no one was present to guide him out when he tried to leave the morning of July 17.
The incident occurred at Marvin's Mountaintop, a camping area near Masontown. Lewin says he was trying to avoid tents as well as vehicles as he maneuvered toward the road but lost control and rolled into the tent.
Nicole Miller, 20, was crushed as she slept, and two friends with her were seriously injured. All three women were from Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Miller's father and one of the survivors, Yon Ten, sued more than a dozen defendants in September. The third victim, Elizabeth "Rosie" Doran, filed a virtually identical lawsuit in October.
U.S. District Court Judge Irene Keeley plans a scheduling conference Friday in Clarksburg on the various claims and counterclaims.
Defendants include the event producer, Maryland-based Walther Productions and president Tim Walther, and venue owner Marvin Huggins and his corporation, Marvin's Mountaintop LLC.
Others include event promoter Junipa Contento; land owner James Carrico; M&M Parking Inc. of Pennsylvania; and three security providers, Event Staffing Inc. of Virginia, National Event Services Inc. of New Hampshire, and Axis Security Inc. of Tennessee.
All have denied culpability and pointed to each other.
Lewin's response asks Keeley to dismiss him from all the lawsuits. He argues Miller's father can't sue him because he "responded with reasonable care" when confronted with "a sudden emergency."
The All Good festival drew about 30,000 people last summer. Next summer, it's moving to Thornville, Ohio.
Walther Productions said Preston County officials never warmed up to the event, and a mass-gathering ordinance passed earlier this year imposed "an outrageous tax."