Three Pittsburgh-area government agencies have agreed to pay a $500,000 settlement to end a lawsuit filed by the son of a Pittsburgh woman who died in 2011 along with three others caught in a flash flood that swamped a low-lying road in a valley near the Allegheny River.
The Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reached the agreement last month with the estate of Mary Saflin, 72, of Pittsburgh’s Oakmont section, who was swept away and drowned by flood waters when she got out of her vehicle.
Saflin died about the same time as three others who were trapped by the flood waters—Kimberly Grriffith, 46, and her daughters Brenna, 12, and Mikaela, 8—which rushed down the valley where Washington Boulevard is located. Both Saflin and Griffith were trying to drive down the road when they were caught in the angry waters.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, PWSA and Alcosan each will pay $250,000 to Saflin’s son. Christopher Griffith, widower of Kimberly Griffith and father of Brenna and Mikaela, also filed a lawsuit which has not yet been settled.
After the deaths, amidst legal accusations that they followed a pattern of accidents attributable to bad storm-water control along the boulevard, the city of Pittsburgh collaborated with Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation officials to create controls to prevent more rain-related tragedies along the boulevard. A flood gate system was installed, which automatically blocks traffic from entering Washington Boulevard during heavy rainfall. In addition to also buying equipment for more effective flood response, the city trained 2,000 employees on best practices for swift-water rescue scenarios