Daughter of Bluffton motorcyclist killed in wreck files wrongful death lawsuit

rlurye@islandpacket.comJune 13, 2014 

More than a month after her father was killed in a motorcycle wreck on Bluffton Parkway, a Bluffton woman is suing the driver cited in the accident.

Halley Yates Repasch is seeking payment for damages from the April 28 death of her father, 53-year-old Joel Yates, including mental suffering, loss of companionship and punitive damages, according to the suit filed June 2.

Yates, a longtime Bluffton resident, was driving his Yamaha motorcycle west on the parkway at about 8:45 p.m. when he was struck by an Acura turning left onto Goethe Road, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. Yates, who was not wearing a helmet, died at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.

The Acura driver, Travis Barnwell of Bluffton, was issued a citation for failure to yield the right of way, according to the Highway Patrol. An investigation found Yates did not contribute to the wreck.

The suit was filed against Barnwell, born in 1990, and the owner of the Acura, Celia Kidd. Attempts to reach them were unsuccessful. Their insurance agency, State Farm, will provide an attorney, according to Repasch's lawyer, Tabor Vaux.

A State Farm spokesman declined to comment.

The suit alleges Barnwell acted negligently by pulling out in front of Yates, failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to avoid the motorcycle.

In addition, Kidd knew or should have known Barnwell was likely to drive her vehicle recklessly, the suit says. It was "foreseeable" that entrusting the Acura to him would cause harm to others, it states.

Barnwell has been cited for traveling 10 mph or less over the speed limit four times since 2008, according to court records.

Through Vaux, Repasch declined to comment. Vaux said Yates operated a local Snap-On tool franchise. On April 28, he was on his way home from picking up aluminum can pull-tabs, which he collected to raise money for burn victims, Vaux said.

Barnwell and Kidd were served the lawsuit Monday, according to court records. The case is pending.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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