The family of a 30-year-old Bethesda editor killed in a 1983 Arlington automobile accident caused by a drinking driver is to receive $637,500 from the driver and the driver's employer in an out-of-court-settlement, attorneys in the case said yesterday.
Under an agreement reached last week in the chambers of U.S. District Judge Richard L. Williams, the driver, Hugh West, and his employer, Polaris Aircraft Leasing Corp. of California, agreed to pay the damages to the parents of Vincent Drosdik.
Drosdik was killed at 11 p.m. Aug. 24, 1983, when his car, traveling west on Arlington Boulevard (Rte. 50) was hit head-on by a vehicle driven by West that had crossed the highway's grassy median strip.
At the time West's blood alcohol content was .28, according to court records. A level of .10 is considered legally intoxicated in Virginia.
West, who is from California and was on a business trip at the time of the accident, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Arlington County Circuit Court in June 1984. He was sentenced to a year in jail, which he served in a work-release program.
"It is one of the largest settlements in Virginia related to DWI [driving while intoxicated] cases on behalf of beneficiaries who are not widows or children," according to the Drosdiks' lawyer, Brian P. Phelan.
The settlement stemmed from an $11 million suit filed by the Drosdiks against West, Polaris Aircraft and Hertz Rent-A-Car that was set to go to trial in Alexandria yesterday.
Phelan said the family sued West's employer because he was on a business trip at the time. Hertz was sued because West was driving one of their vehicles. A $100,000 insurance policy that was part of West's rental contract with Hertz will go toward the settlement, according to William J. Virgulak, an attorney for Polaris.
Drosdik was an editor with Phillips Publishing Inc. in Bethesda. His parents live in Farmington, Maine.