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Lawsuits & Litigation

City of Reno, Firefighters Hit with Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Fatal Accident

— November 27, 2020

Two Reno firefighters were recently hit with a wrongful death suit, and one of them is even facing a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge. Why? Well, according to the suit, they allegedly “ran a red light and killed a woman in 2019.”

Firefighter; image courtesy of skeeze via Pixabay,

One of the firefighters, Rosa Myers, was driving “a fire ladder truck when she made an illegal left turn and ran over 63-year-old Charlene McMaster, who was walking at a crosswalk,” the suit states. As the driver, Myers is the one facing a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge. The other firefighter, Collin Cavanagh, along with the Reno Fire Department and the City of Reno are all named as defendants in the suit.

What happened, though? How did Myers end up running into McMaster? Well, on October 19, 2019, around 7 a.m., Myers and Cavanagh “were at the fire station located on the corner of East 4th Street and Valley Road.” They were refueling their truck, but to do so, “they had to drive off the property and go to the back of the station, a common task for firefighters,” according to the suit. Myers was driving the truck. To get to the back of the station, she had to make three left turns, “one to get out of the station, another to turn at the adjacent intersection and a third left turn to get to the back of the station…Cavanagh was steering the rear.”

Upon leaving the station, they encountered a red light. The suit states that Myers “did not turn on the truck’s emergency lights, sirens or activate the ‘pre-empt’ button – which controls the intersection’s traffic signals in order to allow firetrucks to safely exit the station.” Unfortunately, McMaster was walking in the crosswalk and had the right of way when Myers struck her with the truck. According to the suit, “McMaster was run over by wheels on all three of the truck’s axels, and Myers completed the first left turn before stopping the truck.” Upon stopping the truck, Myers called for emergency assistance.

The complaint further states:

“[Myers and Cavanagh] failed to follow protocols, were either not vigilant enough and failed to employ due diligence to become aware of their surroundings, or they simply did not even bother to look at the road while driving into it and turning.”

When commenting on the lawsuit and the fatal incident, RFD Fire Chief Dave Cochran said:

“I am deeply saddened knowing that our community has been devastated by this tragic accident. The Reno Fire Department in particular is feeling a tremendous impact and loss. No words can describe how sorry I am for those who have been affected, and I offer my heartfelt condolences…At a time like this you may feel concerns about safety, but rest assured, the men and women of the Reno Fire Department remain committed to protecting and serving this community we call home.”


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