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Fatal Groton car crash lawsuits settled

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: The Day

Published November 27. 2012 4:00AM
Three people died in wreck

Groton - A settlement has been reached in three lawsuits filed in connection with a 2007 crash that claimed the lives of a Fitch High School student and two local men.

The cases had been consolidated and a trial was slated to begin Wednesday. Instead that trial has been canceled and the state judicial website shows that the cases will be withdrawn on Jan. 10, 2013. That indicates a settlement has been reached.

Attorneys for the major parties in the case declined to speak about the settlement or could not be reached to comment.

"For all those involved this was such a tragedy," said New London attorney Shelley Graves, who represented David Lee, the father of 16-year-old Cameron Lee, the Fitch student who police say caused the crash.

Attorney Jack Collins, who represents the widow and children of John Geise of Mystic, who was killed when Lee's car crashed into his, declined comment. John Brown, who represents the widow of Wayne Lecardo of Groton Long Point, could not be reached for comment. Lecardo was riding in Geise's car.

Lee was one of up to 70 teens, according to police and one of the lawsuits, who attended a party on Jan. 27, 2007, hosted by Alexander Lavruk at his 67 Farmstead Ave. home while his parents were out of town.

After leaving the party early on Jan. 28, Lee was driving his father David's Oldsmobile Alero at more than 100 mph on Flanders Road when he crossed the center line and struck an Audi that Geise was driving, police said. The crash killed both Geise and Lecardo, who had been heading home from their jobs at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Lee also died. His passenger, Nelson Panganiban, survived the fiery wreck.

A police investigation revealed that Lee was driving in violation of teenage license restrictions that barred him from driving after midnight or with a passenger. His blood alcohol level was .12, six times the legal limit of .02 for underage drivers and above the legal limit of .08 for adult drivers. Lavruk was charged by police with hosting the party and paid a $146 fine. Police said those at the party refused to tell them where the alcohol came from.

Geise's widow, Jennifer, filed lawsuits against David Lee, Lavruk, Panganiban and several students alleged to have provided alcohol for the party.

Katherine Stein, Lecardo's widow, sued Geise's estate, Lee's estate, David Lee, and various companies that owned and had loaned the Audi to Geise while his station wagon was being serviced. She also sued Lavruk and his stepfather Charles Boos, who owned the house at 67 Farmstead Ave. and one of the students alleged to have provided alcohol for the party.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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