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Navy security barrier popped up, causing car crash, USNS Comfort skipper says in lawsuit

US Navy

Driving onto Naval Station Norfolk in 2016, David Murrin had just been cleared by security, according to court documents. He was heading to work on the USNS Comfort, a Norfolk-based Navy hospital ship operated by the Military Sealift Command.

Then a metal barrier popped out of the ground directly in front of his 1999 Mercedes Benz, the documents said.

“Boom,” said attorney Mike Imprevento. “Basically 15 or 20 miles per hour to zero.”

Murrin, the Comfort’s skipper, filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Norfolk. It names the U.S. government and Serco, the contractor that handles gate security at the base, as defendants and seeks $2 million in damages.

A spokeswoman for the Navy base did not respond to requests for comment.

According to the lawsuit, the crash happened about 9 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2016, near Gate 5. Murrin was driving on B Avenue, between its intersections with A Avenue and Virginia Avenue.

The suit said the Hardened Anti-Access Control System, or HACS, deployed in front of him. A “uniformed employee of the United States” at the time told Murrin in effect that “it was inadvertently activated,” the lawsuit said.

“Airbag deployment. The whole deal,” Imprevento said, explaining that the car was totaled and that his client suffered a variety of injuries to his head, right arm and right shoulder. He said Murrin is fit for duty but is dealing with persistent headaches and pain.

Imprevento said he does not know exactly what caused the system to activate, or if the military or its contractor was directly responsible. He said the filing of the lawsuit will allow him to find out more.

“We know that someone was negligent,” he said. “But the rest is all very unclear.”


© 2018 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

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