Michigan Teen And His Parents Sued After Two Killed In Drunk Driving Incident

| by Sean Kelly
the scene of the crash that killed Curt Orlowskithe scene of the crash that killed Curt Orlowski

The family of a Michigan teen killed in a 2014 drunk driving accident reportedly filed a lawsuit against the driver and his parents. 

The family of Curt Orlowski filed a suit on Oct. 6 against 20-year-old Travis Cunningham and his parents, Daniel and Elizabeth Cunningham, according to court records cited by MLive. The suit accused the young man’s parents of providing the alcohol that led to him becoming intoxicated. 

Orlowski, 18, was killed, along with 18-year-old passenger Dakota Gonzales, on July 3, 2014, when Travis crossed a median and collided head-on with the teen’s car. Orlowski and Gonzales were returning from Ann Arbor, where they had been working for the summer. A third passenger survived the crash.

Travis, who was 19 at the time, had a blood alcohol level of .22 percent, well over the .17 “super drunk” classification, MLive reports.

(Travis Cunningham, Photo Credit: Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office via MLive)

“It isn't clear in the police report where he got the alcohol,” John Bredell, the attorney representing Orlowski’s father, said, according to MLive. “Our working conclusion is that he was provided the alcohol at home."

A police report revealed that Travis’ father brewed his own beer at the family’s home and that the young man had access to alcohol.

“At the relevant times, defendants Elizabeth and Daniel knew or should have known that their son was an alcoholic, and in spite of this knowledge, maintained an open beer tap in their garage in which the minor defendant resided,” the suit reads.

The lawsuit is seeking damages in excess of $25,000.

“My clients want some answers,” Bredell said. “Who gave him the alcohol? What contributed to the death of their son?"

Travis was charged with two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death, one count of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury, and one count of operating while intoxicated, according to court documents cited by MLive. He pleaded guilty to all counts.

Gonzales' family has also hired an attorney and is considering a lawsuit.

In 2014, a total of 876 people were killed and 71,378 people were injured in reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in Michigan, according to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts. Of all fatal crashes, 27.5 involved at least one driver, bicyclist or pedestrian who had been drinking.

Sources: MLiveMichigan Traffic Crash Facts / Photo credit: John Counts/MLive