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Family Of Moped Rider Hit, Killed By University Place Police Officer Settles For $1.65 Million

The attorney for the family of Dale Neel says the crash could have been prevented. Pierce County says it's deeply sorry for the family's loss, but the crash was determined to be "non-preventable."

The family of a Fircrest man who was hit and killed by a University Place Police officer in September 2011 has reached a $1.65 million settlement with Pierce County.

The family's lawyer, Michael J. McKasy, released the following statement today:

The estate of a Fircrest man who was killed when a Pierce County Deputy Sheriff hit his moped has settled it’s claim with Pierce County for $1,650,000.

Dale Neel was 61 years old and driving home from work on his moped when Deputy Jason Smith approached in the opposite direction travelling over 55 mph to a traffic stop already covered by another deputy and a Tacoma city policeman. 

Smith had his lights and siren on, so Neel moved from his position in the center turn lane to the curb.  Smith inexplainable crossed the center lane and entered the opposing lane, striking Neel at the curb.  Neel died an hour later in the hospital.

Smith was working under contract at the time for the City of University Place. He had a history of 5 prior accidents, 3 of which had been determined to be “preventable” by the Pierce County Sheriff’s office.

Neel was survived by his wife, Linda, and two adult children.  Mike McKasy, attorney for the estate, said that as part of the settlement, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor agreed to meet with Linda Neel to discuss what changes could be made to emergency responses by deputies that could avoid another tragedy.

Pierce County released its own statement that said, in part, that a board determined the accident was "non-preventable":

This was a tragic accident which resulted in the loss of life, and for that the department has offered its condolences to the family of Mr. Neel with the hope that this settlement will bring some peace and closure to the matter.

The Sheriff referred this matter to an outside agency for the accident investigation. Following an Accident Review Board hearing it was determined that the accident, which occurred while deputies were responding to a potential felony attempting to elude a police vehicle, was non-preventable.

The Sheriff met with the family to hear their concerns. The department is always looking into ways to better serve the public.

Patch will have more information on this story as it becomes available.

Dane Ferrell January 09, 2013 at 01:41 AM
Was officer Smith prosecuted for manslaughter? second degree murder?non preventable? I don't know of any speed limit over 35 MPH in University Place, as well as traveling the wrong direction on the road to be the hero of the year over a traffic stop that was already being handled,while I am glad the family was compensated it doesn't bring Mr Neel back, anyone else would be in prison right now as well, another case of a cop going unprosecuted, this outside agency, another police agency of course,having a cop investigate a cop is a typical case of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse,a cop, doesn't rat out another cop, it is the sworn code of silence they all take up, one who does, wont be a cop very long, or be set up.
Musique January 09, 2013 at 02:13 AM
"He had a history of 5 prior accidents, 3 of which had been determined to be “preventable” by the Pierce County Sheriff’s office." WTH?! Why is he not in prison for this or is he? Why is he still allowed to be in the police force or is he? What consequences is the officer going to have or will he? I am sure the police dept is paying for this, but is anything coming out of Smiths pocket? There are some big gaps in this story.
MJ Miller January 09, 2013 at 03:33 PM
Mopeds should be outlawed on the streets. They are not safe.
Lance Orloff January 09, 2013 at 04:40 PM
So Pierce County has to pay $1.6 Million. That is $1,600,000. Sucks to be Pierce County. Oh Wait! Pierce County is us! We have to pay $1.6 Million. Our tax dollars. Our money. My money. Your money. We are paying for this 1 out of 6 accidents, of which we should have seen the pattern in the 3 preventable accidents. How can I be so stupid as to support a cop who has a history of horrible judgement by paying my tax dollars to our county. I must be a real idiot for allowing him, through my tax dollars, to continue to threaten innocent bystanders by going the wrong way up a road. GOING THE WRONG WAY. That means this "accident" is preventable. Step 1, fire this cop because he has shown he is a danger to our society, and that means children are threatened also. Step 2, stop allowing cops to violate the law. It is my tax dollars that are paying him to commit these crimes. It is your money also. If I am the idiot supporting this cop, then we all are. You are, and our city is. At this point, we can collectively recover our shame by eliminating the threat to our lives. We can demand the city remove this cop from a position at which he can harm us and get paid to do so.
Hotaru January 09, 2013 at 05:53 PM
My prayers go out to the Neels family; Regarding the Officer involved there's still not enough to go before "going off" on him . His accident count, was that since he'd gotten his DL? I wasn't at the scene, not enough information. Paul Pastor is excellent at his job; I'm sure if there were any questionable things going on, the media (other than the Patch) would have said something. One thing I would like to see (unless it has changed) is for all moped riders...(nothing to do with Mr Neels) That they would have to take a Safety Program Riding Class like Motorcycle riders.
Lance Orloff January 09, 2013 at 06:16 PM
Are you now blaming Paul Pastor? He is an excellent sheriff and this in no way reflects on him or the job he is doing. I find it sad that you would make that connection. Jason Smith was acting under a now retired University Place Police Chief. His actions reflect University Place, not Pierce County, and not the Sheriff's department. To say otherwise is inflammatory and slander. It is University Place and the new UPPD Chief, Mike Blair who are now in place able to make decisions on who they allow to represent University Place. As for the accident count, Police are held to a higher standard in my book. After all, we give them guns and responsibility. They can do more harm so we should hold them to a higher standard so that they don't. As for moped safety class, I am sure that will do nothing to protect our elderly or our children when cop cars are rolling heavily across their skeletal structure. If anyone needs a safety class, then everyone needs a safety class. At least we agree on one thing. The Neels family is deserving of our support. With 807,904 residents of Pierce County (as of July 2011). $1.6 Million is only about $2 from each of us. Of course, if it was University Place residents only, that is more like $50.78 from each of us to pay the bill for Jason Smith getting away with killing someone. Thanks to Sheriff Paul Pastor for stepping up and solving the bigger crisis.
Locked n Loaded January 09, 2013 at 08:01 PM
We had a Steilacoom cop slam into our car a few years back. We were going through a green light. He was speeding though Lakewood. He did not even stop at the light to make sure the intersection was clear. After he hit us, spun my car onto the bridge near Philips road. He never got out of his car to check on us. He just sat there. His cronies from DuPont and Steilacoom showed up. The sgt on duty tried to tell me that they would take care of there own damage and that I can take care of mine. Basically just drive away. I told him he was freakin high. So they had to call LAkewood PD. They had to come do an investigation and report. The Steilacoom and DuPont cops stayed in there own little group. Long strory short the city adjuster put us both at fault and paid for half of the damage. Pretty shady system. As long as you carry a badge. You are exempt from most trouble that the average man or woman would pay through the teeth for.
Dane Ferrell January 10, 2013 at 12:22 AM
MJ MIller, a cop driving the wrong way down a street at 2 times the speed limit is safe?your hatred for people trying to be energy conscious does not justify your bigoted comment.
Dane Ferrell January 10, 2013 at 12:26 AM
@Lance Orloff, Sheriff Paul Pastor is a thug, just like many other cops are nowadays, so sure I can see blaming him, he should also be in jail for being an accessory to the fact, hell just for being related to someone who flips off a cop can go to jail for life,so why not Sheriff Pastor?
Musique January 10, 2013 at 02:41 PM
AMEN LANCE!
Musique January 10, 2013 at 02:48 PM
Wow, sorry to hear this! Does sound pretty shady!
Dane Ferrell January 10, 2013 at 05:47 PM
Refer to my earlier post about how cops don't rat out other cops,if the city adjuster found any wrongdoing, the cops would have found,or trumped up something to arrest and harass them about,thugs, and domestic terrorists? look at many cops.

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