wrongful death; death; tank; dangerous; unsafe tank

Tank kills man and family sues

Tank Kills Man and the Jelly Belly Family is Sued

Take a moment to read that headline up there one more time. If it sounds strange, that’s because it is strange. However, it is also quite sad, as it involved the death of someone who was merely trying to do his job.

What Happened to Kevin Wright?

Kevin, 54 and the father of two children, worked for Herman Rowland Sr., the Jelly Belly Chairman of the Board. Rowland had a collection of antique machines, and Kevin would help to maintain the collection and keep it in good order. Part of that collection happened to be an authentic WWII tank.

During a family reunion, Rowland had the tank brought out and his son in law, 62-year-old Dwayne Brasher, got to drive it. Brasher had said that he’d never driven a tank, and Kevin agreed to let him drive. Of course, he also wanted to be in the tank at the time to make sure things were going well.

From where he was sitting, he couldn’t see the land ahead, and he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. As they were driving, they went over an “artificial construct” on the land, and it was at that point that Kevin was ejected from the tank and subsequently run over by it. He left behind two adult daughters. His wife had died in 2009.

The Lawsuit

The remaining family, including Kevin’s father, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Brasher, as well as Rowland, who owned the tank and the land on which it was driven. Kevin’s father, who was suffering from health problems, was dependent on his son, and now that form of support is gone. Not only had their father, and son, been taken away in an untimely manner, he was also the major breadwinner. His father lived with him, and now he needed to find a way to pay for the services that his son was able to provide before.

The lawsuit said, “Defendants had a duty to train and supervise the persons operating the M5 tank and to lend their World War II vehicles only to individuals with sufficient knowledge to drive them so as to ensure they would be operated safely.” Brasher did not have experience in the tank, and that was why he asked Wright to help him. The suit continued and said that the “defendants had a further duty to ensure that the vehicles had proper safety features such as seat belts and hand rails which could be used by passengers to ensure their safety during use”.

According to the attorney representing Kevin Wright’s family, the tank didn’t have any seatbelts or safety features of the sort. However, it wasn’t because Rowland didn’t want any modifications on the vehicles. He’d modified other things, including a cannon, to shoot bags of jelly beans. He was also getting one of the tanks in his collection modified to shoot jelly beans.

Now, a family is dealing with the grief of losing their father, and most believe their lawsuit to be entirely justified.