UConn Fire Sued Over Student’s Death

The parents of a University of Connecticut student who was run over by a campus fire vehicle last year have filed a wrongful death suit against the driver and the state.

Jeffny Pally died on October 16, 2016 after being struck by a UConn Fire Department SUV.

Investigators theorize that Pally, who was 19 and had been drinking at a fraternity party, fell asleep in front of the UConn fire station with her back to the bay door. When the door opened she slumped over and was not seen by the vehicle’s driver, Dana Barrow, as he exited the building.

The suit was filed by Abraham and Shiny Chemmarappally naming Barrow and the state as defendants. It alleges that the SUV was operated “in a reckless, willful and wanton manner, and in a manner that showed reckless and malicious disregard.”

Barrow was cleared of any criminal wrong doing by the state. The Hartford Courant quoted Tolland County State’s Attorney Matthew C. Gedansky, as saying:

  • “The accident reconstruction investigation determined that the firefighter could not see Ms. Pally in the position she was in.”
  • “We measured the line of sight, we recreated the incident and there’s no possible way he could have seen her.”

Six students have been charged criminally with alcohol related offenses arising out of the incident, and the fraternity, Kappa Sigma, has been suspended. I reached out to the Chemmarappally’s attorneys for a copy of the complaint, and am waiting for a decision on whether they will release it.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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