The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs allowed an employee with a drinking problem to drive government vehicles for 15 years until he killed four vacationers from Nebraska in a drunken driving crash.
That was the comment Tuesday from attorney Randi McGinn representing relatives of one of the two couples who died. She said in her opening statement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the government that it failed to properly oversee BIA employee Lloyd Larson and has steadfastly resisted acknowledging its responsibility.
A government lawyer said it was unaware of Larson's problem and that he was on his own time when the crash occurred Jan. 25, 2002.
The federal lawsuit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was filed by relatives of Edward and Alice Ramaekers of Norfolk, Nebraska. Also killed were companions Larry and Rita Beller.
Larson's blood-alcohol level after the crash was more than double the legal limit. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder.
The Beller family settled a wrongful death cause for $2 million in February.