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Scottsdale Settles Motorcycle Charity Ride Wrongful Death Claim

The city of Scottsdale will pay $166,666 toward a settlement payment to the survivors of a New Mexico couple who died in the motorcycle charity ride accident.

Al and Samantha Barela were cruising through the intersection at Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and East Gray Road during a charity event for the Special Olympics on March 28, 2015, when a sedan slammed into their motorcycle.

Both died.

The survivors of the New Mexico couple filed a wrongful death claim against the city of Scottsdale, the Special Olympics and Chester's Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Dealership, which hosted the ride.

The city was represented by an attorney provided by the ride’s insurer.

“The allegations against the city were basically that it should have had officers controlling the intersection, which they did not,” said Bruce Washburn, Scottsdale’s city attorney, who is familiar with the case. “The city took the position the Barelas were responsible for stopping at the intersection.”

The Barelas did run a red light. The ride was billed as a “police escorted” event.

The Arizona Republic reported Scottsdale police staffed a little more than half of the officers and assistants requested for the event.

Washburn says no specific changes happened in the city as a result of the accident.

Scottsdale is responsible for one-third of the $500,000 settlement payment. The insurers for the other two defendants, the Special Olympics and Chester's Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Dealership will pay the remaining two-thirds, according to a memo provided to Scottsdale City Council

“The settlement does not constitute an admission of liability on the part of the city. The case is being settled because there are conflicting beliefs regarding the cause of this accident.”

Mariana Dale rustles up stories as a senior field correspondent based out of KJZZ’s East Valley Bureau in Tempe. She’s followed a microphone onto cattle ranches, to the Dominican Republic and many places in between. Dale believes in a story’s strength to introduce us to diverse perspectives, inspire curiosity and hold public leaders accountable for their actions. She started at KJZZ on the digital team in 2016 and still spends a lot of time thinking about how to engage with our community online. Dale has learned from stints at Arizona Public Media, The Arizona Daily Star, The Arizona Republic and as an intern at NPR’s Morning Edition in Culver City. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Dale is grateful for the mentoring of the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the Chips Quinn Scholars program and AIR’s New Voices Scholars. A desert native, she loves spending time outside hiking, tending to her cactus and reading.