Okay Man Killed In Chain-Reaction Crash Hit By 2 Drunk Drivers, Lawsuit Says


Friday, April 17th 2015, 6:13 pm
By: News On 6


A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the parents of an Okay man who was killed when he exited his car after a wreck and was hit by another car.

Joe Burk, 33, was part of a chain-reaction crash on Interstate 44 and U.S. Highway 75 in March. He was hit by a vehicle on an overpass, then got out of the car to check on his injured son, the lawsuit says.

A second vehicle came along and hit Burk's already wrecked vehicle.

The tort claim has been filed against the two drivers – Derius Donovan Ledet who hit Burk first, and Robert Hunter Phillips, who hit Burk second, which killed him.

Both men were intoxicated and uninsured, the lawsuit says.

4/17/2015 Related Story: Okay School Board Member Killed In Tulsa Crash

According to the lawsuit, Burk was northbound across the overpass of I-44 as Ledet, who was attempting to exit I-44 east to enter U.S. 75 north, drove his vehicle into the rear passenger side of Burk's vehicle.

Burk's vehicle then spun out of control, it says.

When the vehicle came to a stop, Burk exited the vehicle to tend to his 8-year-old son who was injured.

“Burk set his son upon the right rear trunk of his motor vehicle in order to inspect and tend to him,” according to the lawsuit.

That's when another northbound motor vehicle on U.S. 75, driven by Phillips, drove into the back of Burk's car, killing him and further injuring his son severely, the lawsuit says.

According to the document, Ledet not only was intoxicated, but he was inattentive and didn't exercise the “care and caution a reasonably prudent person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances.”

Ledet failed to yield to Burk, it states.

Phillips also was intoxicated, the lawsuit says, and he was inattentive in the same manner as Ledet.

Phillips additionally “failed to drive his motor vehicle at a reasonable and safe speed so as to avoid colliding with other motor vehicles that were stopped on the roadway within the assured clear distance ahead” constituting an immediate hazard outlined by state law, it says.

The lawsuit names State Farm as a third defendant and notes an uninsured motorist policy.

Burk was a divorced father of two sons, the lawsuit says. His parents filed the claim seeking in excess of $1 million in damages on behalf of their grandsons and reimbursement of funeral expenses and grief for themselves.

The lawsuit says the family should receive relief for economic damages and loss of support, and non-economic damages such as grief, loss of companionship and destruction of parent-child relationships, plus interest and court costs, and any other relief awarded by the court.

Burk was returning home from a basketball game that his alma mater – Okay High – was playing in at Glenpool. Burk also was a school board member, one of the school's biggest cheerleaders, and “loved to dream big for Okay,” friends told News On 6 earlier this year.

Ledet, 25, of Tulsa, has a history of alcohol- and drug-related convictions, records show. He also is serving a deferred sentence in Osage County for larceny.

Phillips, 21, of Wagoner, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2012, but records show he received an expungement last year after meeting court-ordered probation requirements.

Neither man has criminal charges in Burk's death at this time, although the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office has an open investigation.