BILLINGS — A Livingston veterinarian is seeking compensation for the emotional trauma of finding part of a man’s face in a car wash more than two years ago.
Kimberly Kriege filed a complaint in Gallatin County District Court on Nov. 10 seeking damages from CRST Expedited Inc., the company David Welk was driving for when he hit and killed a man walking in the area between Big Timber and Livingston. Kriege’s lawsuit was recently transferred to the U.S. District Court in Butte with Judge Sam Haddon assigned to the case.
On Sept. 30, 2013, Elgie Bedford, 81, of Alaska, was walking in the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 when he was struck and killed by a semi driven by Welk.
Welk briefly continued driving before turning around to investigate. After exiting his truck and observing the body, he left the scene, telling his co-driver it was just a duffel bag and some clothes, according to the affidavit in Welk’s criminal case.
Investigators later reported Bedford's body appeared to have been hit by several subsequent vehicles and no identifiable remains were left at the scene of the crash the following day.
One of those subsequent drivers washed evidence from the accident from her vehicle at the car wash where Kriege later found the face.
Kriege immediately called 911. However, when police responded, they treated her as a suspect in the hit-and-run crash and confiscated her car as evidence. Kriege claims she suffered emotional trauma not only from her gruesome discovery but also the subsequent experience with investigating officers.
Welk reported to CRST’s mechanics that he had hit a hawk, taking out one of the truck’s headlights. His co-driver felt uneasy about the incident, and after investigating accidents in the Big Timber area, he reported Welk to the authorities.
Welk was later arrested for striking and killing the man and sentenced to six years in prison, all suspended. He received one year of credit for time spent in jail awaiting trial.
In court documents, Paul Collins and Dave Whisenand, Billings-based lawyers representing CRST, contend the company is not responsible for any of the damages. Furthermore, the company has added two other parties to the lawsuit, Jane Bedford, representative of Elgie Bedford’s estate, and Wryan Young, who was previously accused of hitting Bedford with her truck and leaving the piece of the face at the car wash.
In the document, the attorneys argue Elgie Bedford was negligent for “walking down the middle of I-90 at night, and that negligence caused or contributed to his death.” Young was said to have been negligent for leaving the scene and attempting to conceal evidence of the wreck.
Messages to representatives from CRST were not returned Wednesday, and the company's attorneys did not comment on the lawsuit.