Family sues Gaston County School District over death of son

Family sues school district two years after boy's death
Published: Oct. 24, 2016 at 11:01 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 24, 2016 at 11:45 PM EDT
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GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - The parents of 14-year-old Steven Canipe Jr are suing the Gaston County School District in a wrongful death lawsuit. Canipe was walking to Cramerton Middle School back in 2014 when a car traveling 45 mph hit and killed the student.  The parents claim the walk was dangerous.

Canipe walked along New Hope Road to get to school. There were no sidewalks and no crosswalk, but plenty of speeding cars. The lawsuit claims the mother requested a school bus pick up her son. The school district denied the request because the Canipes lived less than a mile from the school.

The lawsuit claims Canipe would still be alive if the school district did what it was legally charged to do. The lawsuit claims it is the responsibility of the district to provide transportation to students unable to safely commute to and from school.

Canipe's lawyer said since it is the law for students to attend school, the burden is on school districts to provide transportation to make that happen.

"It's a murky question," lawyer Charles Everage said. "When you ask a question as far as are you entitled to transportation to school and that's a discretionary decision."

Everage has practiced law for about 20 years. He is not representing the Canipe family. He said he has sued school districts before over negligence. He said this case could  be challenging but not impossible.

"It's going to be an uphill battle," he said, "filing a suit under these facts."

The NC DOT said there have been changes made to the area where Canipe was hit. A statement was sent to WBTV outlining the changes made near Cramerton Middle School.

"In May 2015, changes were approved for NCDOT to extend the school speed zone along New Hope Road, measuring 2/10 of a mile in either direction of the intersection with Cramer Mountain Road," the statement read. "This change also includes adding "School" pavement markings and speed limit signs in this area. The speed limit in this zone remains 35 mph."

The lawsuit is suing in excess of $10,000 for damages. The family wants a trial by jury.

DOCUMENT: Click here to read the full lawsuit

The lawsuit is currently in the Federal Courts waiting to be heard.

Gaston County School District had no comment about the lawsuit other than to say it received it.

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