Man who lost legs to get $14.3 million in settlement with county

EVERETT — Snohomish County is paying $14.3 million to a man who lost his legs after a sheriff’s deputy allegedly ran a stop sign in Everett and struck him last year, public records show.

The settlement with Tom Gillette, 60, and his wife recently became final. In earlier claims, the Darrington-area couple had sought $35 million in damages.

The county’s insurance will cover all of the settlement except for a $2 million deductible, said Michael Held, a deputy prosecuting attorney in the civil division. Held called the crash a “very sad accident.”

“The Gillettes are good people and Tom Gillette has managed this traumatic life change with courage and grace,” Held said. “The county wishes he and his family well.”

Gillette has undergone more than a dozen painful surgeries. The family is grateful for the outcome of the settlement, said their attorney, Joe Traylor, of Portland, Oregon.

“We were able to resolve this claim without the unnecessary expense and turmoil of filing a lawsuit which made things much easier for everyone involved,” Traylor said.

The collision happened April 17, 2015, at 23rd Street and Rockefeller Avenue. Sheriff’s deputy John Sadro was on-duty and allegedly speeding while transporting a witness to court. After Sadro allegedly ran the stop sign, his Ford Crown Victoria was broadsided by a Honda and then struck Gillette’s parked pickup. Gillette was working construction in the area and was unloading saw horses from his truck at the time. He was pinned between the pickup and another parked car. He nearly died from blood loss and spent two months at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Sadro, 56, is charged in Snohomish County Superior Court with vehicular assault, a felony. His trial is scheduled for December. Prosecutors allege that he was driving 49 mph in a 25 mph zone in the north Everett neighborhood.

Sadro remains on desk duty pending the outcome of his criminal case, said Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. The agency also plans to conduct an internal investigation to determine whether he violated any policies. That process is on hold until after the trial, Ireton said. Sadro has been with the sheriff’s office for a decade.

As part of the settlement, the Gillettes agreed not to pursue litigation. The final figure takes into account money the county already paid to the couple to remodel their home to make it more wheelchair-friendly. The county also purchased the Gillettes an $89,000 van outfitted to accommodate the disabled and paid $275,000 in advance payments anticipating a settlement.

The county denied any liability in the crash. The Daily Herald recently obtained the settlement documents through a public records request.

Two other people involved in the collision, including Sadro’s passenger, also have filed claims with the county seeking damages. Those claims are pending.

Reporter Noah Haglund contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

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