The guardian of April Harshbarger's estate filed suit against the city of Wood River and one of its police officers claiming a motorcycle accident in which April suffered severe injuries was due to a high speed police chase.

Represented by Ed Unsell of East Alton, Karen Mitchell claims that on June 16, 2005, April, a minor, was the passenger on Jeremy Morris' motorcycle when officer Hugh Noble gave chase to issue a ticket for speeding.

"The said police officer had a duty to operate his squad car with due care and with due regard for the safety of all persons on the roadway,' the complaint states.

The suit was filed in Madison County Circuit Court on May 10.

Mitchell claims that during the pursuit, Morris, who is not a defendant in the suit, crashed his motorcycle into a retaining wall.

She claims the crash was caused when Noble:

  • failed to stop at three stop signs while engaging in a high speed chase of a suspect involved in a traffic violation;

  • traveled at extreme speeds up to 70-80 miles per hour in a 25 m.p.h. residential zone;

  • followed the motorcycle at an unsafe distance while traveling at high rates of speed;

  • continued his pursuit of the motorcycle without backing off causing Morris to drive even faster;

  • failed to render immediate aid to the passenger after the crash; and

  • failed to keep constant communication with the police officer dispatcher while engaging in a high speed pursuit.

    Mitchell claims that April suffered serious injuries, pain and suffering and permanent disability. She also claims that she has sustained damages under the Parental Expense Act for April's medical expenses.

    Mitchell is seeking damages in excess of $300,000, plus all costs of the suit.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nick Byron.

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