Lawsuit filed over death of teen on Geiger Grade

The mother of a 13-year-old Reno boy killed in August 2004 while skateboarding along Geiger Grade has filed a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle, the state and both Washoe and Storey counties.

Alana Garmann's suit filed in Washoe District Court focuses primarily on the responsibility of state and county officials to provide for safety of pedestrians, children and others it says are forced to use the roadway because there are no sidewalks along the highway connecting Reno and Virginia City.

Her son Rory Dean Jr., 13, was headed to 7-Eleven along Toll Road with a friend when he was struck and killed. The accident occurred about 11:15 p.m. Aug. 4, 2004.

The driver of the Jeep, JoAnn Fate of the Virginia Highlands, was on her way to work at the time. She told investigators she was watching the other teen and didn't see the victim.

She was not cited in the accident.

Garmann's lawyer Carter King of Reno said the focus of the lawsuit is aimed more toward fixing the problem and eliminating the danger than going after Fate.

"We believe she was negligent," he said. "However, if the state had had a sidewalk there, she wouldn't have had someone there on the road in danger.

"It's about fixing the highway and Alana Garmann hopes her son didn't die in vain."

King argued the counties have authorized construction of hundreds of residences in that area, built a school and then allowed construction of stores that attract children and others along Geiger Grade.

"But there are no sidewalks, no crosswalks, no flashing lights and no reduction in speed," he said.

His complaint filed Wednesday in Washoe District Court charges that is the responsibility of the Nevada Department of Transportation in particular.

"These are attractive nuisances for children. They haven't changed Geiger Grade in 35 years and that's the problem because it's not the same desert-mountain highway it used to be. If you have a school and houses you sell to families, you ought to put some sidewalks out there and maybe a bike path."

Nonetheless, the complaint asks for in excess of $200,000 in damages.

King said the situation is similar to an accident a decade ago when a boy was killed on Pyramid Highway. He said he took that case as well and helped convince NDOT to install walkways, lights and other amenities there.

"The same thing needs to be done for Geiger Grade," he said. "We're hoping to save other kids' lives. When we invite families with children to live beside a highway, children ought have a sidewalk where they can ride their bikes. They shouldn't be forced to use the highway as a means of transportation and compete with automobiles."

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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