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Woman says police lost her accident report

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An Ohio woman who crashed along Interstate 64 earlier this year said she couldn't claim the accident on her insurance because police allegedly lost the report.

Nicky Strickland, of Kettering, Ohio, said she's contacted multiple local agencies but no one can help her.

In the early-morning hours of Jan. 16, Strickland said she was driving back from Charlotte, N.C., when a tractor-trailer cut her off on I-64 near Nitro.

"He cut across too soon, I swerved to avoid him and flipped," Strickland said.

She called 911 and she said dispatchers sent Nitro Police Department officers to come survey the damage. The officers then took photos of the car and skid marks on the interstate, she said. Her car was towed, and Nitro police took her to the station to get her information while Strickland's mother drove down from Ohio to pick her up.

A week later, Strickland was surprised when no one at the department knew anything about the crash and couldn't find the report or the photos, she said.

She had attempted to file a claim with her insurance using the "phantom vehicle defense," a crash for which an unknown vehicle is to blame.

Her attorney, Donald Tennant, of Wheeling, said he couldn't proceed with the claim without the uniform crash report. He's devoted a "fair amount of time" to tracking it down without any luck, he said. He's contacted State Police and other local police agencies working that night.

"We haven't found any other documented evidence that she wrecked her car that night," he said.

Strickland said eventually she was able to track down an officer shift log showing Nitro police responded to a single-vehicle accident that night. However, that report read: "referred to Kanawha County. The accident occurred prior to her entering city limits."

She contacted the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department but was still unable to find the report. Sheriff's Capt. B.C. Robbins wrote her a letter last month saying he couldn't find the report either. There's no record of deputies being dispatched to the crash that night, he wrote.

"We are not able to generate an official West Virginia Uniform Crash Report almost nine months after the fact," Robbins wrote. "Our agency would have no way to investigate the circumstances, damage or even the area in which the crash was supposed to have occurred."

Strickland said she doesn't know what else to do and just wants to have the crash taken care of. She's since undergone physical therapy for a sprained neck she sustained in the rollover.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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