EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSWRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
from Eyewitness News Online
Widow Sues Clay Sheriff, Former Police Chief In Husband's Death Following Police Chase
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Mar. 23, 2012 10:04 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 23, 2012 10:18 PM EDT
Clay , Clay County , West Virginia
Clay County's sheriff and the town of Clay's former mayor and police chief have been hit with a wrongful death lawsuit.
Two years to the day after Adam Nottingham apparently drowned in the Gauley River following a police chase, his widow is suing two top law enforcement officials.
"My son woke up this morning at 6:00 o'clock crying for daddy and I can't tell him anything until I can find him, and I can't get help to find him," said Crystal Nottingham in a March 2010 interview with Eyewitness News. It was just days after her husband, Adam Nottingham, drowned in the Gauley River following a 25 mile police chase from Clay to Fayette County. His body was found 22 days later.
On the two year anniversary of his death, Crystal Nottingham filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sheriff Randy Holcomb and former Clay mayor and police chief Jack Brown in Clay County Circuit Court.
Her lawyer, John Mitchell Senior, tells Eyewitness News that after an "extensive investigation" they can find no reason for the initial chase. The suit states the officers were well aware the driver was Adam Nottingham, and he was "deathly afraid" of the sheriff.
Spike strips proved unsuccessful in stopping Nottingham, and he later jumped out of his car and either fell or jumped into the water, according to the suit.
"We've looked. God knows we've looked and we've prayed. I believe in miracles but we need help," said his mother, Sandra Edwards, while the family was searching the area back in 2010.
From day one, family members criticized law enforcement for what they called a lack of effort in recovering the body. Officials, at the time, said the water was too high and it was too risky.
Now, the lawsuit is claiming Sheriff Holcomb in a "very loud, boisterous, and profane manner" refused to allow rescue squads to go in, even after they heard a scream for help, and knew Nottingham only had one arm.
The suit claims the sheriff's actions were "negligent, intentional, and malicious" and he took away Nottingham's "last chance of life."
Neither Sheriff Holcomb, Jack Brown, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Samples, or Clay County Commission President Jerry Linkinogger would comment on the suit.
Nottingham is asking for "adequate compensation" plus the cost of the lawsuit.
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