Fayette County

Student was hit by car near Lafayette. Mom sues the city, wants safety changes.

Lafayette High School student Mark Edward Portwood was walking on Oct. 31, 2016, when he was struck by a white Kia Forte on Clays Mill Road. The accident happened in front of Lafayette Christian Church.
Lafayette High School student Mark Edward Portwood was walking on Oct. 31, 2016, when he was struck by a white Kia Forte on Clays Mill Road. The accident happened in front of Lafayette Christian Church. gkocher1@herald-leader.com

Lexington “failed to provide a safe environment” for youths crossing Clays Mills Road where a Lafayette High School student was hit by a car a year ago, a lawsuit filed Monday alleges.

Plaintiff Lauren Schmelz said her son, Mark Edward Portwood, suffered numerous injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, when he was struck Oct. 31, 2016.

Portwood, 15 at the time of the collision, was crossing Clays Mill Road near Blue Ash Drive while walking to Lafayette High School. He went through the windshield of a Kia Forte, the lawsuit says.

Susan Straub, direct of communications for the mayor’s office, had no comment Tuesday on the lawsuit filed in Fayette Circuit Court.

City officials were “repeatedly” told by residents, city council members and other officials “of the dangerous pedestrian conditions at or near the area where the collision occurred,” the complaint says.

It says city officials determined that crosswalk markings and pedestrian signals were necessary at or near the area where Portwood was hit.

Nevertheless, the city “failed to provide a safe environment for young pedestrian students,” the suit says.

In addition to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, city officials named as defendants in the suit are Dowell Hoskins-Squier of the Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works; Derek Paulsen of the Department of Planning, Preservation and Urban Development; Jeffrey Neal, Roger T. Mulvaney, Casey Kaucher and Walter Hall of the Division of Traffic Engineering; Robert Bayert, Douglas Burton, Mark Feibes and Keith Lovan of the Division of Engineering; and Albert Miller of the Division of Streets, Roads and Forestry.

The suit seeks a jury trial but doesn’t specify a dollar amount sought for damages.

Mark Edward Portwood, known as “Edd” to friends, is the son of Mark Portwood, 38, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a truck accident in 2003. The family calls Mark Edward “Little Mark” and his father “Big Mark.”

Little Mark was a baby riding in his father’s truck that day, and his car seat that was knocked onto the floorboard. Big Mark cannot speak or walk. A feeding tube provides nutrition.

The day when Little Mark was hit on Clays Mill was Big Mark’s 37th birthday, his mother, Tina Portwood, told the Herald-Leader last year. She is a grandmother of Little Mark.

“I prayed all the way to the hospital, ‘Please, don’t let it be a brain injury,’” Tina Portwood said of her grandson’s injury last year. “When I seen him, I knew that he had a brain injury.”

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