DENVER (CBS4) – Two college students in Colorado won $25 million in a verdict after a sleepy driver hit and killed their parents. Now, they want to use the money to pay it forward to make sure others don’t have to live through losing loved ones.
It was the worst day of Nicole and Nicholas Walters’ lives. They were stopped in traffic on Interstate 76 when a delivery truck driven by a Nebraska man slammed into them.
Nicole remembers thinking, “Why did this have to happen?”
Mark Bollinger, who was driving the truck, was asleep at the wheel and never saw the stopped traffic. Nicole and Nicholas’ parents, Michael and Jill Walters, were killed.
“It’s pretty angering, and it’s not that hard to just get a good amount of sleep before you start driving,” said Nicholas.
Now orphaned, the Walters children sued the driver and his employer. They say negligence by both parties took their parents from them.
“There’s regulations on how many hours you can drive before you need to take a break, and they say that they have these rules, but they don’t enforce them,” said Nicole.
Now they hope to use money from the verdict to educate people. They’re starting by creating a website, wakeupdrivesafe.com, with information about the dangers of fatigued driving.
Nicole says, “Twenty-one percent fatal car crashes are due to fatigued driving and 28% is drunk driving.”
While they don’t know their next step yet, they do know they don’t ever want this to happen again.
“It’s terrible to lose your family in a way like this, and it doesn’t need to happen,” Nicole said.
The Walters say the suit was never about the money to them, it was about sending a message to the trucking industry that they have a responsibility to help keep our roads safe.