The family of a Portland man whose car went over the side of the Interstate 205 Bridge during a snowstorm in February 2021 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Oregon Department of Transportation for its handling of road conditions. The family is suing for $12 million.
The lawsuit — filed Monday, the one-year anniversary of Antonio Amaro Lopez’s death, in Multnomah County, Ore. — alleges ODOT crews created a ramp of snow and ice, cleared from I-205, in the bus lane and shoulder of the bridge.
When Amaro Lopez’s car hit a patch of snow or ice, causing him to lose control, his Subaru then went up the “man-made snow ramp” and plummeted 144 feet into the Columbia River below, the lawsuit alleges.
Dive crews recovered Amaro Lopez’s body and SUV from the river three days later. The Oregon Medical Examiner’s Office determined he died of a fracture of the spine from the crash, with immersion in water listed as a contributing factor, according to the lawsuit.
An ODOT spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.
Amaro Lopez, 57, was a chef at his brother’s restaurant, Amaro’s Table, which has locations in Hazel Dell and downtown Vancouver. Officials said Amaro Lopez had left the Hazel Dell restaurant around 5 p.m. to drive home.
His family is being represented by Vancouver-based Navigate Law Group, in collaboration with Maxwell Graham, a law firm in Issaquah.
“ODOT failed to follow its own Winter Maintenance Strategy,” attorney Trevor Cartales of Navigate Law Group said in a press release.
“Antonio loved his beautiful family, faithfully followed his favorite soccer team and worked hard every day. His family will tell you he was a force felt by everyone that knew him. But he is gone because of ODOT’s negligence,” Cartales said in the press release. “Moving forward, we hope ODOT will take seriously its duty to safeguard the public. This community cannot afford another tragic loss like this — certainly not at the hands of the very department responsible for transportation safety.”