The attorney for the family of a man who was killed when he ran his quad runner into a fence this week is inviting the public to view the area where Lester Mitchell Paul Jr. died, and decide for themselves whether the state-controlled property is safe.
"Our initial investigation indicates to us that the statement by the (Nevada Department of Transportation) that (flagging and signs are) not required is self-serving," said Carson City attorney Edward Bernard, retained by the Paul family.
On Thursday, NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder said the department does not have a policy of flagging or putting reflectors on fences to make them more visible.
"We disagree that the area did not need to be marked," Bernard said. "The condition itself was dangerous and there were alternate methods by which to ensure the public would not be exposed to this."
On Tuesday morning, three hours after he was reported missing by his longtime girlfriend, a freeway construction worker discovered Paul Jr.'s lifeless body atop his all-terrain vehicle in the ditch alongside the Carson City Freeway's east offramp to Arrowhead Drive.
Investigators say Paul was likely using the ditch as a shortcut to his Northgate Drive address when he accidentally rode through the fence at about 40 mph. It appears he did not have his headlights on or see the fence before hitting it.
The four-wire fence runs from the freeway soundwall, down a hill to a gate and then becomes again four wires to the ditch. The four wires continue across the drainage ditch and onto the other side. According to Magruder, the wires were installed in April. Magruder said the fencing across the ditch is standard so when the ditch contains water, debris can flow through as opposed to becoming caught in chain link.
Bernard said that after visiting the area, it was evident to him that the placement of the fence, some 700 feet from the street as measured by Detective Dave Legros, made it even more dangerous.
"There seems to be no rationale for the placement of that wire at that point," he said. "It could have easily been at the beginning, by the turnaround. But it's in the middle there, not explained, and NDOT should explain. You can't see it and there doesn't seem to be any reason to have it there.
"NDOT coming out publicly and saying they don't have a duty to mark it, we disagree with that. But that's a matter of legal interpretation, and we'll be investigating both factually and legally much further"
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.