College sued over hit-and-run incident

Aubrey Baumbach was hit as she was walking from the Lafayette Crew boathouse, pictured left, along Lehigh Drive to lot where one of her teammates was parked.

Photo by lafayette.edu

The family of a former member of the crew team filed suit against the college and coaches of the team for unspecified damages in connection with the hit and run accident that nearly claimed her life.

Aubrey Baumbach’s parents, Robert and Lisa Baumbach, filed the lawsuit last month against Lafayette College, Head Crew Coach Richard Kelliher, and Assistant Coach Allison Sobiech. The suit accuses Lafayette College, Kelliher, and Sobiech of negligence and intentional misrepresentation. The court document accuses all parties of knowing Lehigh Drive was unsafe and failing to provide adequate safeguards.

It may be some time before the suit goes to trial.

Baumbach’s incident was not the first serious accident on that stretch of Lehigh Drive, the suit alleged. In August 2013, a 35-year-old Easton pedestrian was struck and killed there by a drunk driver, according to local press reports.

“This was a very dangerous situation and to have students running and walking along this road really was an accident waiting to happen,” one of the Baumbach’s attorneys, Dominic Guerrini, said. “In light of the prior accident that occurred on this very stretch of road that they would’ve noticed that they needed to better protect these crew team members.”

The intentional misrepresentation charges filed allege the college and the two crew coaches knew and intentionally hid that the road was unsafe for pedestrians. Attorneys representing the college and the two crew coaches argue that these charges should be dropped, since the suit did not clearly define how or when the college committed the offenses, according to court records.

Wilson David Kneebone, the person accused of hitting Baumbach, pled guilty on July 11 to charges of aggravated assault by vehicle and driving with a suspended license. His plea was part of a bargain in which two other charges against him were dropped, according to court records.

The hit and run happened in November of last year. Kneebone hit Baumbach on Lehigh Drive while she was walking back from crew practice at dusk with other members of the crew team, according to court records.

Baumbach was thrown into the air by the force of impact and slammed down onto the pavement, breaking her back and fracturing her skull. Her other injuries included severe brain trauma and a collapsed lung. Baumbach also suffers from ongoing infections, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Lehigh County.

Baumbach was driven to crew practice by another member of the team, who parked at a lot down the road from where the boathouse is located along Lehigh Drive. She was hit while walking back to the lot after practice.

Lafayette College Spokesman Roger Clow declined comment to comment on ongoing matters of litigation.

About William Gordon

William Gordon '17 is the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette. He writes about student government, law, financial aid and music. He's studying English and government & law with a minor in economics.

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