Fayette County Sheriff Hannah and wife named in lawsuit

A woman whose car collided with a sheriff’s patrol vehicle Jan. 27 has filed suit seeking medical and punitive damages against Fayette County, Sheriff Wayne Hannah and the driver of the patrol vehicle, Capt. Deborah Hannah, who is also the wife of Sheriff Hannah.

In the lawsuit Danielle Amber Mask accuses Capt. Hannah of “pursuing family business” to protect her home after a burglar alarm was set off at her southeast Fayette home.

The crash occurred at the intersection of Helen Sams Parkway and South Jeff Davis Drive as Hannah traveled south on South Jeff Davis when Mask’s vehicle pulled in front of her going from Helen Sams Drive and turning onto South Jeff Davis Drive, according to findings from the Georgia State Patrol.

The suit, filed July 8 in Fayette County State Court, alleges that Capt. Hannah was driving without her siren activated, though the blue lights on her marked 2009 Ford Expedition were on prior to the crash.

The county contends Capt. Hannah’s siren was activated during the response to her home, according to court documents.

The crash was investigated by the Georgia State Patrol, and Mask was charged with failure to yield at a stop sign while Capt. Hannah did not receive any citations.

A spokesperson for the Georgia State Patrol noted that the report indicated that Mask said she didn’t see Hannah’s vehicle when she began her turn onto South Jeff Davis Drive.

The county, in its response to the suit, also denied the accusation that Capt. Hannah was violating the speed limit at the time of the collision.

Capt. Hannah is in charge of the department’s drug abuse resistance education program for the sheriff’s office.

The suit claims that Mask, who had her 4-year-old daughter in the back seat, came to a stop on Helen Sams Parkway and looked both ways before turning left onto the westbound lane of traffic on South Jeff Davis Drive.

The suit accuses Capt. Hannah of being negligent in the operation of her vehicle which caused the crash that resulted in “serious injuries” to Mask and her daughter.

The crash has resulted in more than $90,000 in hospital expenses for Mask and her daughter, the suit claims.

Mask is seeking punitive damages in the case for past and future medical expenses as well as compensation for physical and mental pain among other reasons.

Mask is being represented in the case by Macon attorneys Russell M. Boston and Wendy Sullivan Boston.

mbest
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Dep Dawg, sounds like you used a laser for your calculations...

Tells me (and probably others) a lot.

This wreck was sad. No one was probably more affected than Deborah Hannah. She's a sweet lady. She has worked GREAT! with kids on drug resistance for more than a decade. No one should hold it against her that her husband won his race for Sheriff and then pulled some "Victor Hill" type demotions.

I understand the comments about responding to alarms not being her job. But if you drop the crap and speak the truth; Which cop do you know who wouldn't do that? Wouldn't you? A call comes out about an alarm at your house; you have blue lights and siren and are legally allowed to engage them; you're not going to hurry to your house? Bull; anybody would. Even if you're not assigned to that call there is nothing in the law that prevents you from using them on an emergency call.

As to the comments that it's not an emergency vehicle without emergency equipment; bull. It's always an emergency vehicle but some emergency vehicle exemptions don't come into play if they are not activated.

We should concentrate our prayers on the young girl and the female Deputy and not fuel the fire of the lawyers.

depdawg
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Check the Code Book (40-6-6 (c) )
mbest wrote:

Tells me (and probably others) a lot.

This wreck was sad. No one was probably more affected than Deborah Hannah. She's a sweet lady. She has worked GREAT! with kids on drug resistance for more than a decade. No one should hold it against her that her husband won his race for Sheriff and then pulled some "Victor Hill" type demotions.

I understand the comments about responding to alarms not being her job. But if you drop the crap and speak the truth; Which cop do you know who wouldn't do that? Wouldn't you? A call comes out about an alarm at your house; you have blue lights and siren and are legally allowed to engage them; you're not going to hurry to your house? Bull; anybody would. Even if you're not assigned to that call there is nothing in the law that prevents you from using them on an emergency call.

As to the comments that it's not an emergency vehicle without emergency equipment; bull. It's always an emergency vehicle but some emergency vehicle exemptions don't come into play if they are not activated.

We should concentrate our prayers on the young girl and the female Deputy and not fuel the fire of the lawyers.

Check the code book ma'am. You should have plenty of time when youre patrolling The Pavilion. It hasnt been that long since you were last in EVOC.

Cyclist
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Lawsuit - Capt. Deborah Hannah

The suit, filed July 8 in Fayette County State Court, alleges that Capt. Hannah was driving without her siren activated, though the blue lights on her marked 2009 Ford Expedition were on prior to the crash.

The county, in its response to the suit, also denied the accusation that Capt. Hannah was violating the speed limit at the time of the collision.

It appears that Ms. Mask's legal team is trying angle this towards the possibility that the lack of a siren and or speed as being either what caused this crash or contributed to it. I find this most interesting since at this intersection there is an unobstructed view of some .3 of a mile or 1,560 feet looking west from the intersection of Helen Sams PKWY. Now, rather than bore everyone with the math, a top fuel dragster does a .25 mile in just under 4 seconds at speeds topping 300 MPH (Google). So, unless the FCSO is "pimping" their "rides" with 8,000 horsepower engines, I suspect there is more than enough time to see and react to an on-coming vehicle while waiting at that intersection.

It's unfortunate, but it really appears the young lady did not look to ensure that there was no on-coming traffic. She says she looked but so claims the lady that pulled out in front of me which I ran into. I know she didn't look because I watched her. She never turned her head and looked in my direction. She was most stunned when I slammed into her.

I'm sorry, I don't buy into all this FCSO conspiracy and cover-up stuff. If the young lady ran into anyone of us I suspect that that would have been the end of it. But since it involved a municipal vehicle, in this case the FCSO vehicle, someone wants make the community responsible. And you know what, this sort of thing happens all the time.

depdawg
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FCSO Coverup
Cyclist wrote:

The suit, filed July 8 in Fayette County State Court, alleges that Capt. Hannah was driving without her siren activated, though the blue lights on her marked 2009 Ford Expedition were on prior to the crash.

The county, in its response to the suit, also denied the accusation that Capt. Hannah was violating the speed limit at the time of the collision.

It appears that Ms. Mask's legal team is trying angle this towards the possibility that the lack of a siren and or speed as being either what caused this crash or contributed to it. I find this most interesting since at this intersection there is an unobstructed view of some .3 of a mile or 1,560 feet looking west from the intersection of Helen Sams PKWY. Now, rather than bore everyone with the math, a top fuel dragster does a .25 mile in just under 4 seconds at speeds topping 300 MPH (Google). So, unless the FCSO is "pimping" their "rides" with 8,000 horsepower engines, I suspect there is more than enough time to see and react to an on-coming vehicle while waiting at that intersection.

It's unfortunate, but it really appears the young lady did not look to ensure that there was no on-coming traffic. She says she looked but so claims the lady that pulled out in front of me which I ran into. I know she didn't look because I watched her. She never turned her head and looked in my direction. She was most stunned when I slammed into her.

I'm sorry, I don't buy into all this FCSO conspiracy and cover-up stuff. If the young lady ran into anyone of us I suspect that that would have been the end of it. But since it involved a municipal vehicle, in this case the FCSO vehicle, someone wants make the community responsible. And you know what, this sort of thing happens all the time.

Dont be fooled, there are numerous things that are covered up by the good ole boys at the FCSO. i think there is a shared fault in this matter though. The CPT is wrong from running lights and sirens (maybe) to her own residence, and Mrs Mask is wrong for not clearing the intersection before making her turn. The county will pay this one out, as they do everything else because its cheaper to settle than to litigate.

Cyclist
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Interesting depdawg
depdawg wrote:

...and Mrs Mask is wrong for not clearing the intersection before making her turn.

If Ms. Mask failed to ensure that she could safely make the turn then how in the world can the other driver have any responsibility in this? Ms. Mask was the burdened vehicle.

depdawg
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In Continuation (Code Section Cited)
Cyclist wrote:
depdawg wrote:

...and Mrs Mask is wrong for not clearing the intersection before making her turn.

If Ms. Mask failed to ensure that she could safely make the turn then how in the world can the other driver have any responsibility in this? Ms. Mask was the burdened vehicle.

Mrs.Mask vehicle was found to be the burdened vehicle, no questionon who the more at fault driver was. The major question is was the SO vehicle a true emergency vehicle. As described in OCGA 40-6-6 (c) an emergency vehicle is not considered to be such until a visible flashing or rotating blue or red light visible from 500 feet AND an audible signal (siren). Also the code section states that emergency vehicles are required to show due regard. That means that just because lights and sirens are going you cannot negligently disobey the traffic laws that are posted.

The other posed question is would I respond to a burglar alarm at my residence lighs and siren. No, I wouldnt, its just property, thats all. Steal everything you want, I dont cherish my worldy posessions that much.

The next question was it a burglary in progress? To the best of my knowledge and research it was not, had it been there would be no argument about Cpt Hannah's response to said burglary in progress.

I think both drivers share a great repsonsibility for this horrific crash, and I wish no ill will towards either party. But if youre wrong, say your wrong and move forward.

Cyclist
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depdawg

If it was the FCSO vehicle rather than Ms. Mask that was the burdened vehicle and failed to clear the intersection even with lights and siren on then I agree that § 40-6-6 would be the issue. But that was not the case. I guess we can agree to disagree.

AtHomeGym
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depdwg--rest of the story

So was the burglar alarm a false one or did the Hannah house actually get burgled?

Road Runner
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Deborah Hannah

used poor judgement responding to a burglar alarm at her house. She had to be going over the speed limit and if she didn't have her siren activated, than shame on her. Just because she is the Sheriff's wife doesn't give her the right to do as she pleases. What! The county contends and the county denies....what a shocker! I hope Ms. Mask receives some kind of compensation on this case.

depdawg
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FYI.....

Unless something has drastically changed there are two present faults.

First, responding to an alarm was not an emergency response, unless it is deemed a burglary in progress. A Police/Sheriffs vehicle is also not considered an emergency vehicle unless all emergency equipment (lights and sirens) is activated.

Secondly, it is the other drivers responsibilty to show due care when entering/crossing or turning onto a roadway. The mere fact that Mrs mask was the only one cited doesnt release the FCSO of any liability. I truly hope this goes to court and everyone involved receives what they consider to be justice.

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What about the other questions

Why was she responding to an alarm at her own house? Why would a DARE officer need blue lights and siren in pursuit of these duties? Was there video in the patrol vehicle? I think the plantiffs attorneys could have fun with this case. Yes, I wish I could be there too. Bottom line, I wish Ms. Mask and daughter and Capt. Hannah a speedy and full recovery.

ptctrader2010
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This smells...

I am former law enforcement. It is untenable to have a Sheriff have his wife in employ... Very poor judgement. As for the situation..."legally" the sheriff vehicle is "not" an emergency vehicle on a call if the lights and siren are not both in operation. Unless of course they have changed this since I went through the police academy.

Further... if the nature of the call was personal/family related... she should not have been involved.

Just my opinion.

JJs Mom
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The people voted him in knowing his wife worked there-

She was his wife and employed by the FCSO before he was Sheriff. Do you think she should have to give up her career?

skyspy
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HUh?? Let's' See.....

You run a stop light, fail to stop for an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens and now you...want to sue the person you almost killed???? Wow!

How about you attend a driver's safety course.

Courthouserules
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sky

I don't think you said it all!
There are many in Fayette County who were upset about the Sheriff's wife working for him in primarily a senior desk or school job!
It is thought by many that she doesn't ordinarily answer house alarms, nor any other crime in progress.
I suppose the alarm she got was her own home and it came in to the sheriff's office--maybe directly to her!
I don't think the sheriff answers private property alarms directly anymore--if they ever did.
At this point there are only assumptions of whether blue lights were on, sirens were blaring, or speeding occurred!
If she wasn't the proper one to answer this call and if the assumptions aren't correct--there is room for a law suit, I suppose.

Cyclist
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You're right skyspy

Let's see, the burdened vehicle, that would be the young woman stopped at the sign, failed to ensure that traffic was cleared and proceeded to attempt a left turn on to Jeff Davis. Oh, but she claimed she looked. Yeah right.

You know, I would love to attend this trail and see how her legal consul will attempt to persuade otherwise.

Anyways, there is some significant parallels between this and the recent crash at WFB and SR 85.

bad_ptc
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What do the "black boxes" say?

“The county, in its response to the suit, also denied the accusation that Capt. Hannah was violating the speed limit at the time of the collision.”

Easy enough to prove or disprove; pull the “black boxes” from both vehicles and see what the data says.

I would find it disturbing that whoever investigated this accident would simply take anyone’s word for what happened when there is potentially empirical evidence to be had.

Reading the data from a vehicle after an accident is SOP these days.

Additionally, I would find it hard to believe that: 1) someone would not see a Ford Expedition with its flashing blue lights on, 2) that Capt. Hannah wasn’t driving greater than 45 mph. while responding to a possible burglary at her own home.

In either case the data is available.

South Jeff Davis Traffic Enforcement
Monday, August 02, 2010
“As a result of citizen complaints, the Fayetteville Police Department recently checked traffic volume and speeds on the southern portion of South Jeff Davis Drive. The study showed that 30% of the traffic was exceeding the posted 45 mph speed limit.”

Timing is everything.

The 5-0
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Black Boxes

Reading the data from black boxes are not the standard operating procedure today (for several reasons).

1- The majority of vehicles on the road don't have one

2- Most departments don't have the ability to download information from them (due to budget cuts and lack of grants)

3- They require subpoenas and search warrants to obtain

Spyglass
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I don't think vehicle "black boxes"

keep data for much more than the last minute or so of driving. I doubt the data is still there for the time/dates of this incident.

It could be the Sheriff's Department has different "black boxes" on their vehicles..

NUK_1
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Love to see the evidence on this incident

I don't trust Wayne Hannah to be honest, ethical or even semi-competent, and whether that carries over to his wife or not remains to be seen.

While on the surface it appears that the motorist was at fault, it wouldn't be the first time recently that the FCSO covered up the truth and then "lost evidence." Good luck finding anything that disproves Hannah's account of the events.

Road Runner
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NUK_1

No, this is not the first time the FCSO has covered up the truth and as you say "lost evidence". I don't trust Wayne Hannah at all...his wife (a "DARE officer") had no business responding like she did. She must think she is "superwoman" ;) Good luck to Ms. Mask on this one.

intheknow
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Sounds like the Sheriff's office is going to cost taxpayers $$$

I still can't believe County Sheriff's can get way with so much in todays society and not be held accountable - I guess they envision themselves above the law. This whole Hannah thing is almost as bad as the Victor Hill debacle they had in Clayton County.
FIrst, you had an outgoing longtime (maybe too long) Sheriff Randall Johnson throw his support to one of his commanders, the one over the much smaller Traffic Division. Then, just prior to leaving office this outgoing Sheriff goes and promotes this same commanders wife, whom also works in the SO and is over the DARE officers, to the rank of Captain, which obviously included a raise.
I don't know any of these people, but back when I researched whom to vote for in the last Sheriff's race, it made sense to me to vote for the other commander, Barry Babb, whom held far more responsibility by supervising one of the largest divisions in the SO - the Patrol Division.
When Mr. Hannah won the election, one of his first acts was to demote his political opponent from command of the Patrol Division down to that of a Jailer, along with what I'm guessing was a dramatic salary cut. Seemed like a major waste of tax dollars taking someone with many years of training (at tax dollars expense) and experience and demoting them as such. I think the story went that the new Sheriff wanted a entire new management team (guess that included his wife with her fresh promotion).
I've been told that Sheriffs Office has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that officers don't respond emergency anymore to alarm calls (with some exceptions such as reported burglary in progress or similar calls). This has become a standard among police jurisdictions around the country, with the number of homes that have alarm systems and the associated high percentage of false alarms they send. This is something police agencies have done to reduce liability and potential hazards to the public and even their own officers, when responding emergency with lights and siren.
It's been noted publicly that Captain Hannah (the Sheriff's Wife), assigned over the DARE Officers was responding "emergency" to a burglar alarm at their own residence.
Was there not a SO officer out on patrol that was maybe closer to their home? Does this not seem to indicate a person of authority, a Captain in the department, someone whom is responsible for enforcing department policy actually grossly violating it? What type of disciplinary action did this Captain receive whom violated policy which contributed in causing harm to a citizen and totaling a county owned SUV? Most agencies would probably give a demotion to senior staff or at least some time off without pay - what did her husband ( Sheriff Hannah) decide as punishment for her?
It's surprising in an educated county like Fayette, that such shenanigans in law enforcement can persist without any real public outcry or accountability.
If proven in court that the Sheriff's wife failed to follow departmental SOP in responding to the alarm at her house, this gross nepotism is going to cost the taxpayers a lot more than the just cost of her totaled SUV.