LMPD officer ordered to pay for fatal wreck - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

LMPD officer ordered to pay for fatal wreck

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Sarah Bearden (Source: Sarah Bearden crash memorial) Sarah Bearden (Source: Sarah Bearden crash memorial)
Officer James Adams (Source: LMPD) Officer James Adams (Source: LMPD)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Louisville Metro police officer has to make a big payment to the family of a Louisville woman killed in a car wreck three years ago.

Officer James Adams settled Monday with the parents of Sarah Bearden who died when her car collided with his police vehicle at Hurstbourne Parkway and Headley Hill Road in May 2010.

A judge ordered Adams to pay Bearden's family $700,000, but their attorney says it's not about the amount it's about the fact that to them it proves Adams takes some responsibility for her death.

The judge also ordered Adams to write a letter to the family. In it, Adams said at the time of the May 22, 2010 wreck he did not believe he "bore any responsibility for this tragic and unfortunate accident." Because of the lawsuit filed by her parents he "learned his speed was a contributing factor."

[Letter from Officer James Adams to the family of Sarah Bearden]

"This has never been about the money for the Beardens and when you hurt as bad as they hurt the money doesn't matter anyway," said attorney Chad Gardner.

Adams was off-duty in his police vehicle cruiser, headed to a side job when he and Bearden collided. The investigation into that wreck shows he traveled 83 miles an hour in the 45 mile per hour zone.

"If Mr. Adams had been going the speed limit he would have been able to stop twice before he hit her," said Gardner.

Adams letter also serves as a warning to other drivers, specifically police officers to be careful in the manner in which they operate their motor vehicles when not responding to emergency calls.

"It was important to the Beardens that Mr. Adams conveyed to his fellow police officers essentially you don't want to end up where I am, you don't want to be in my shoes having to live with a lost life because of excessive speed," said Gardner.

In an email to WAVE 3, a woman identifying herself as Officer Adams wife, Tracy said she does "not believe her husband was the cause of the accident." She said "the letter (her husband wrote the Beardens) was written by attorneys with specifications by the plaintiffs."

[Letter to WAVE 3 News from Tracy Adams, wife of Officer James Adams]

The investigation also showed Sarah Bearden had a glass of wine before she got behind the wheel, but the results of her blood alcohol content test were lost after investigators mailed it to the lab.

A judge ruled her BAC would not be allowed as evidence if the lawsuit went before a jury.

Adams still works as a detective with the department.

The attorneys for the Bearden's aren't sure what they'll use the money for. They have already established a scholarship in Sarah's name. They say the money should be paid in the next few weeks.

Copyright 2013 WAVE News. All rights reserved.

SIDEBAR: Adams-Bearden letters

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Letter from Officer James Adams to the family of Sarah Bearden Letter to WAVE 3 News from Tracy Adams, wife of Officer James Adams