A Claremore firefighter’s widow is getting backlash after filing a $2 million lawsuit against the city for her husband's death.
Fire Captain Jason Farley drowned after being pulled into a storm drain during a flash flood rescue last spring.
The family said, since the lawsuit, there have been hundreds of hurtful comments and insults on social media about the decision to sue. Farley’s 16-year-old daughter said those comments are hard to ignore, which is why she posted a blog addressing the criticism Tuesday.
“I know that they don’t understand, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult,” Hannah Farley said. “I don’t think they realize how it actually affects us or that they realize that we’re going to see it.”
It's been almost a full year since Hannah lost her dad - an ache in her heart that will never go away.
“It's like you wake up, is it gonna be a good day or is it gonna be a bad day,” Hannah said. “I just miss him being here.”
The family said Farley’s death could have been prevented, if the City of Claremore had maintained the drainage pipe and the area around it. And for that reason, Farley’s widow filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Claremore.
“If he would have walked into a burning a building and the building came down on him, there would be no lawsuit,” Hannah said. “That would have been a sheer accident. It's the fact that this shouldn't have happened. It was still an accident, but it's an accident that could have been prevented.”
The suit says the city is at fault because there was no safety fencing around the storm drain and no grate on the pipe. Farley’s daughter said those two things alone would have kept her dad from drowning.
“It's kind of incomprehensible, honestly, to know that it shouldn't have happened,” Hannah said.
The suit claims the city knew about the dangers and says the problems with the drainage pipe were a top five priority for repair in a 2009 report, but nothing was ever done.
“There shouldn't have to be a death for something to be done about a dangerous area,” Hannah said.
Since Farley's death, the city has installed yellow fencing around the drainage ditch, but there's still no grate covering the drainage pipe.
The Farley family said they feel like the city isn’t taking their loss and the safety of other Claremore firefighters seriously.
Hannah said the lawsuit is about change, not money because she knows there's no amount of money that will bring her dad back.
Still, many are calling Hannah’s mother greedy, but worse are the comments about her dad, she said.
“They said that it was taking away his reputation as a hero, and that was unacceptable to me,” Hannah said. “We just want something to be done so nothing like this happens to any other family. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.”
Claremore's city attorney told the Claremore Progress: "We have received the claim and have turned it over to the insurance company for processing."