CLEVELAND — The family of a Berea man and his six-year-old son, both killed in a crash with a military Humvee in September 2016, have filed a federal lawsuit against the United States of America.
“The tragic thing about this case is Bryan Bargar was conscious for 37 minutes. He gets slammed by this military Humvee. He’s pinned. He’s awake and conscious. The second part of our lawsuit is the pain and suffering he went through in the final minutes of his death,” said Tom Merriman, who represents Bargar’s estate.
The lawsuit said the Army National Guard, under the employment of the US government, is liable for the deaths of 34-year-old Bryan Bargar and his six-year-old son, Wyatt Bentley.
“The Barbers are a military family and they look at this and say’ how is it you you let these young kids behind the wheel of a massive military vehicle on three hours of sleep in a rainstorm?’” said Merriman.
Tom Merriman represents Bargar’s estate and said Wyatt’s mother filed a separate suit two weeks ago.
Merriman said the National Guard is responsible because Private First Class Jeremy Taylor was sleep deprived when he hit them.
“Lights out was at midnight and they woke them all up at 3 a.m. Saturday morning. They got into a convoy and drove to Camp Perry, an almost 3 hour drive behind the wheel. They trained all day and rather than stay overnight as the plan required, they had them drive back to Portage County in a rain storm,” said Merriman.
The lawsuit said empty energy drinks were found inside the Humvee and Taylor had been awake for at least 15 straight hours before he crossed the center line travelling on Route 14, clipped another car, and then slammed into Bargar’s Kia head-on.
“For 37 minutes at least, he was conscious knowing his son suffered catastrophic injury in the backseat. Struggling to stay alive. It was a horrific tragedy,” said Merriman.
Merriman said the Army’s own investigation into the accident found multiple instances of leadership failure.
“It’s one thing to push soldiers to the limit when they are on a battlefield and the training field. It’s another thing to push them to the limit and then put them on a civilian roadway on a weekend afternoon when there are families driving in cars,” said Merriman.
Bargar is survived by four children from a previous marriage.