Woman sues Daytona International Speedway over tram crash

A woman who claims she was hurt badly in a wreck while a guest during the 2011 Rolex 24 is suing Daytona International Speedway.

The suit filed by Dena Barton of Longwood states she was visiting the Speedway on Jan. 29, 2011, as a passenger in a tram towed by a new Chevy pickup.

The suit alleges the pickup driver, Angela Warren, a Speedway employee, "negligently operated" the truck while going through a tunnel at the race track, causing a crash.

A Daytona Beach Police Department report found Warren, of Holly Hill, rear-ended a recreational vehicle driven by Feliz Joaquin Gonzalez of Miami after Gonzalez slowed. Police found Warren at fault in the accident for "careless driving," though police did not issue a citation, the report shows.

A phone call left for Warren was not returned.

Lenny Santiago, Speedway spokesman, said he couldn't comment on specifics in pending litigation.

Barton said she suffered permanent injury, pain and suffering, physical impairment and, among other things, required hospitalization and medical or nursing care.

The police report showed she and another passenger reported neck pain and a third reported shortness of breath. Speedway officials at the time said they were treated and released off-site.

There were 33 people in the tram, according to the report.

Barton is asking for a cash judgment.

Barton's attorney, Susan Tolbert of Morgan and Morgan's Daytona Beach office said litigants wait to file lawsuits in crash cases as they await doctors' opinion about whether their injuries are permanent.

"It doesn't mean amputation or blindness, just some condition that the health care provider doesn't expect to resolve in the next two years or so," Tolbert said.

"We are trying to determine the reasons why the accident occurred so maybe we can plan better, or see if it was human error, Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said at the time. "We're not really sure yet. We'll find out and make any changes to make sure it never happens again."

Santiago said Wednesday that he could not comment on whether an internal investigation had been done or what determination might have been made.

He said the Speedway operates tram tours every day except Christmas, and uses the trams to transport fans during major events. Daytona Beach News Journal

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