Widow Sues Richard Petty Firm Over Attraction Death

(CN) – The widow of a driving instructor killed in a crash at the Disney World attraction the Richard Petty Driving Experience claims in court the Petty’s companies caused her husband’s death by allowing an inexperienced guest driver to operate a Lamborghini at a high rate of speed.

Gary Terry, a senior operations manager and driving instructor at the attraction and a passenger in the car, died in the April 2015 crash.

The Florida Highway Patrol later reported the Lamborghini involved was traveling at 100 miles per hour through the closed course at the time of the accident.

It said the 24-year-old driver, Taven Watson, lost control of  the Lamborghini Superleggera and struck a guardrail, causing it to enter the passenger side of the vehicle.

Terry, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene.  Watson only received minor injuries.

In a lawsuit filed Dec. 16 in Orange County Circuit Court, Katherine Marie Terry blames her husband’s death squarely on the defendant companies allowing customers with no training or experience to race exotic cars at speeds over 100 miles per hour.

Watson is also named in the suit. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Besides allowing untrained drivers to take the wheel behind some of the world’s fastest cars, the lawsuit also takes aim at the decision to allow cars to move the wrong way on the track, where the ends of the guardrails were exposed to traffic and not cushioned.

According to local media reports at the time, a Florida Highway Patrol investigator said if the cars were going in the proper direction, the accident probably would not have been fatal.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Petty Holdings nearly $6,000 over the guardrail issue.

A representative of the Richard Petty Driving Experience did not return a call for comment.

According to his obituary, Terry – an avid racer — moved from Michigan to work at the attraction, which uses the Walt Disney World Speedway. (Disney is not named in the suit.)

The Richard Petty Driving Experience opened in 1997 so people could ride in or drive stock cars. Later, the Exotic Driving Experience was added so customers could drive Lamborghinis, Porches and Ferraris for as little as $99.

The attraction closed in August 2015. The closure, announced earlier that year, was not related to Terry’s death.

Petty Holdings LLC still operates the Richard Petty Driving Experience at other tracks around the country.

Richard Petty is one of the top stock car drivers of all time.

He won the NASCAR Championship seven times and the Daytona 500 a record seven times.

Over his entire career, he won a record 200 races, including 27 races in 1967 alone.

Terry’s wife is seeking damages for lost income and pain and suffering for herself and their daughter, Taylor.

She is represented by Anthony Sos of Dellecker Wilson King McKenna Ruffier & Sos in Orlando.

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