The father of a Tennessee teen who died in a tragic car accident last November is outraged after the Tennessee Department of Transportation billed her nearly $3,000 to replace the guardrail that killed her. Speaking with WKRN about the matter, Stephen Eimers admitted that his daughter’s death still haunts him and the fact that the state billed her adds insult to injury.
“They sent my daughter a bill for almost $3,000 for the device that killed her. I was just flabbergasted. I mean the audacity,” Eimers told the news outlet.
“What bothers me is that they’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives. They know these devices do not perform at high speeds and in situations like my daughter’s accident, but they leave them in place.”
According to a report from USA Today, Eimers is refusing to pay the bill and also alleges the model of guardrail end involved in Hannah’s death is “horribly designed” and dangerous, and that “the culture at TDOT is more concerned with making up catchy slogans than actual safety.”
TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi spoke with local media outlets and he explained that the bill was a mistake and it was sent out due to an error in processing. He apologized on behalf on the company and said Eimers would not have to pay the bill. He also said the family will receive another letter to explain the error in detail.
Hannah N. Eimers was killed early on the morning of November 1, 2016, when her Volvo left northbound Interstate 75 near mile marker 56 in McMinn County and went off into the median, a Tennessee Highway Patrol accident report revealed.
Stephen Eimers said the yellow and black piece on the end of the guardrail wasn’t safe, and it was an issue TDOT was aware of. Nagi said the guardrail that Hannah hit was a Lindsay X-LITE — a model that TDOT had removed from its approved products list just one week before the fatal accident.
TDOT reportedly removed the guardrail model in question from the list in late October 2016 due to concerns about how the telescoping w-beam, slider assembly friction reduction systems may perform if impacted at higher speeds than 100 kph or 62.2 mph, the speed at which terminals are typically crash tested.
“TDOT knew this was dangerous and that it wasn’t performing well,” Eimers said.
Following his daughter’s death, Eimers hopes to see changes and said he will push authorities to remove and replace all guardrail ends that are deemed dangerous.
“I’ve got to be able to look the next mom or dad in the eye and say, ‘I tried to make some changes in the culture of TDOT. I tried to get some dangerous devices off the road,'” he was quoted as saying.
An 18-year-old passenger, Rachelle Kania, was also riding in the vehicle during the time of the accident, but she was uninjured. Both Kania and Eimers wore seat belts, according to the report.
In Honor of Hannah Nicole Eimers https://t.co/PbCL7xIIcG
— Callie Blue (@justcal19) November 3, 2016
Hannah was the oldest of nine children and was described as having a “servant’s heart.”
“She was remarkable,” Eimer said. “She graduated at the age of 15. She was self-taught German, Russian and American Sign Language.”
Eimer worked in the art department of a movie last summer. The film is titled Dog Years, and it was shot in the Knoxville area. It stars Burt Reynolds and Ariel Winters. The film is expected to be released in April 2017.
Burt Shirts today for Hannah Eimers. Fly high, little movie maker. pic.twitter.com/izghaO8UXH
— Kadi Brazil (@misskadimarie) November 4, 2016
“She worked in the art department of the movie we just shot in Knoxville,” movie director Adam Rifkin posted on Instagram. “Working in film was her dream. Her hard work, her dedication and her talent impressed and inspired us all. She was brilliant and beautiful and left a lasting impression on everyone who had the good fortune to know her. She died yesterday in a tragic car accident….Our hearts are broken.”
[Featured Image by Jorg Hackemann/Shutterstock]