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Fatal Accident Suit Settled for $2.7 Million

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A $2.7-million settlement has been reached in a suit brought by the husband and son of an Anaheim woman who was killed when a drunk driver ran a red light and crashed into her in December.

The settlement will be paid by the insurance companies of Anthony Bithell, the drunk driver who is serving a six-year prison term at Avondale State Prison, and Owen Roofing Co. in Los Angeles. Part of the money will be used for the completion of a memorial to victims of drunk drivers, the victim’s husband said. Lori Ann McInroy Curler, 34, who managed an apartment with her husband in Orange, was driving east on Lincoln Avenue near State College Boulevard in Anaheim when Bithell ran a red light, killing her instantly. He was found to have a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.

Her husband, Jack Curler, said Wednesday that the settlement “doesn’t mean anything to me. Nothing can replace my wife.”

Curler recalled the tense moments waiting for his wife to return from her computer class the night of the accident. After searching for her with his 6-year old son, he came home to find their answering machine blinking an unknown number.

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“I felt relieved thinking that it was from Lori,” he said, but a police officer was on the phone telling him that his wife died in a car accident. Curler had passed the scene of the accident without realizing that his wife was in it.

The victim’s mother, Janice McInroy, said the loss is “still so hard. You wake up every morning trying to get one foot in front of the other. I’d give all the money back to get my daughter. A little boy is left without a mother.”

The case was settled just as the trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Curler plans to have a 16-by-12-foot memorial wall built at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cypress to commemorate Curler and other victims of drunk driving. Curler’s family hopes it will be a place of solace and bonding for the victims’ families. Made of creme-colored Italian marble, the Vietnam Memorial-style wall will have the names of victims carved into it. Its cost is estimated at $59,000, and the family has received donations from all over the world for it.

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