Appeal filed with Ohio’s high court

The husband of a woman struck and killed by a Green Springs Rural Volunteer Fire Department truck is seeking an appeal through Ohio Supreme Court.

In 2016, a lawsuit seeking at least $50,000 was filed on behalf of Paul L. Riehm, administrator of the estate of Lorri J. Riehm, in Seneca County Common Pleas Court against the fire department and Seth T. Knieriemen of Green Springs, court records state.

Lorri Riehm, 53, of Tiffin, died after being struck and run over by a grass truck driven by Knieriemen at Beaver Creek Reservoir in June 2016. The lawsuit alleged her death was tragic but avoidable.

Crews initially were summoned to the reservoir for a report of a capsized boat.

Knieriemen put the truck in reverse and drove it backwards on the embankment path, back toward the other crew members who were working to get a boat out of the water, according to the lawsuit.

Court records state a crew member observed Lorri Riehm walking away from the truck while wearing headphones and looking down at her phone. Knieriemen had completely run over her by the time he stopped, the lawsuit alleges.

Lorri Riehm was pronounced dead at the scene.

The lawsuit alleges the brush truck had an obstructed rear view and the fire department did not provide any help to Knieriemen as far as a lookout, ground guide or spotter.

The Third District Court of Appeals reversed Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Kelbley’s judgment, court records state.

“This case certainly presents a tragic accident, but the immunity statutes were designed to prevent liability unless certain extreme conduct was present,” states the opinion of the judges who ruled in favor of the fire department and Knieriemen. “The facts of this case do not rise to the level of willful or wanton conduct to subject GSRVFD to liability.”

Paperwork has been filed in Ohio Supreme Court on behalf of Paul Riehm seeking to appeal the Third District Court of Appeals’ decision.

Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine had said Seneca County Prosecutor’s Office reviewed the investigation and determined no criminal charges were appropriate for filing. No drugs or alcohol were involved, and the driving wasn’t determined to be reckless, he said.

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