How far would you go to get what you perceive as justice for your child? Todd Storm is testing his limits these days.
Having lost his 19-year-old daughter in a motorcycle accident in June, he has spoken with police officers, argued with prosecutors, filed at least one lawsuit and hired his own crash-scene reconstruction expert.
And all Storm wants, he claims, is for someone to be given something as simple as a traffic ticket.
I dont want to come across as a guy looking for money, Storm said in an interview last week, shortly after he filed a lawsuit against one of the drivers involved in the crash that killed his daughter.
What he really wants, he said, is answers to certain questions.
For instance: Why would someone riding a motorcycle without a license or insurance not be issued, at the very least, a citation after being involved in a fatal wreck?
Or: How can a fatal crash involving two drivers who survived not result in some type of traffic citation or charge?
So far, Storm has yet to receive a satisfying response from a law enforcement system he feels has not done his daughter any form of justice.
Its just irritating to me the way it went down and how no ones being held accountable for their actions, Storm said.
By many accounts, Ashley Morgan Storms future was bright.
She had recently graduated from Columbia City High School and been accepted to the University of Saint Francis to study radiology. She had a penchant for work, holding steady jobs throughout her teens.
She was pretty ambitious, Todd Storm said of his daughter. She was definitely in a hurry to grow up. She even took all the courses she could in high school to get out early.
On June 23, Storms daughter climbed onto the back of a 2001 Yamaha YZF-R6 sport bike, known for its speed and operated by her friend, 20-year-old Jacob S. Bunker.
About 11 a.m., the two were traveling south on Hillegas Road.
Raymond Nasir, 42, was driving a pickup truck north on Hillegas and slowed to turn left at the intersection of Hillegas and Goshen roads, according to a police report.
The truck then made the turn right in front of the motorcycle.
I dont think I was even going 10 miles per hour, Nasir said in an interview. I dont think I was at fault. I think its a bad intersection. I still think about it today.
Bunker tried to swerve to avoid the truck, grabbing the clutch and front brake as he did, according to a Fort Wayne police report.
At that time, he could feel Storm rise up off the seat and start to come over his back, the report said.
The motorcycles front wheel hit the back of Nasirs truck on the passenger side, the police report said, and Storm was thrown from the motorcycle.
She suffered internal injuries and trauma all over her body.
One police report said she had deformities to her right arm and leg and that she was also bleeding heavily from her head.
She was breathing and moaning, and another report noted that she was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
A trauma doctor at Parkview Regional Medical Center declared her dead at 1:05 p.m.
I will never be able to walk my daughter down the aisle to get married, Todd Storm said. I will never get to see her grandkids.
After the crash, after the police reports were written, Storm began asking questions.
A valid phone number could not be found for Bunker, and a message left for him through social media was not returned.
No longer sure
Shortly before the crash, Todd Storm rode the motorcycle his daughter would be riding on before her death.
He knows the Bunkers, he said, and since he has a motorcycle permit, he rode the sport bike to a downtown auto shop for Jacobs father.
Feeling how fast the motorcycle could go and the way it handled, Storm also remembers what he told the elder Bunker.
I said, Id be doing you a favor wrecking this, he recalled.
An officer who reconstructed the crash for the Fort Wayne Police Department estimated that Bunker might have been going nearly 70 mph at the time of the wreck, according to a police report.
Storm said that wouldnt surprise him, but hes no longer sure of the truth and does not completely trust the officers report.
He hired his own crash expert, who questioned some of the math the Fort Wayne Police Department used in coming to the conclusion about Bunkers speed. The expert also interviewed several witnesses as well as Nasir, the pickup driver in the crash, according to Storm.
In one Fort Wayne police report provided, Nasir told an officer he made the turn without seeing any traffic coming on Hillegas.
In several others, Nasir stated he saw the motorcycle but thought it was in the distance.
When asked about those discrepancies, Nasir told The Journal Gazette: It was one of those things you dont expect, you know? It happened so fast, I didnt think about it at the time. Its hard to remember things, you know?
I believe I was making that turn as I normally would be. I caught a glimpse of that motorcycle. That intersection is a really bad intersection, Nasir continued.
In a deposition conducted by a lawyer hired by Storm, Nasir admitted driving on as little as two hours of sleep at the time. At least one other witness deposed by Storms lawyer said it looked as though Nasir did not see the motorcycle coming as he made his turn.
Storm said he eventually received some money as a settlement from Nasirs insurance company, but Nasir said he is not aware of any settlement.
I feel really bad for the parents, Nasir said. I still think about it.
According to one of the police reports, Bunker was issued a citation for driving without a proper license to operate a motorcycle and without insurance.
But that citation was never registered into the court system, further incensing Storm, who believes both drivers possibly deserve some type of ticket.
What does it say if we do nothing? Storm said.
Storm approached Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards one day at a pizza shop where his daughter once worked. He said she was nice and agreed to meet with him about his complaint over the lack of tickets issued in the wreck.
After that, he began making numerous calls to the prosecutors office, looking for answers as to why, in his eyes, nothing was done.
Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander said that law enforcement officials will sometimes hold off on issuing citations in fatal wrecks for various reasons.
On cases like this, we dont want to get into double jeopardy that will keep us from maybe filing a felony or some other serious charge, he said, noting he had reviewed the case.
Its unlikely, though, that someone would pop out of the woodwork and offer evidence that one of the drivers was reckless, McAlexander said.
And theres also a psychological aspect to not issuing citations, he said. Some people might feel their lost loved one would be slighted or diminished if all law enforcement issued was a traffic ticket.
We try to be very cautious, he said. On cases like this, we try to keep an eye on it, and we wouldnt necessarily exclude filing something of an infraction or that nature later on.
Many infractions have a two-year statute of limitations.
Still, it leaves Storm, who has made it clear he wants a traffic ticket issued, wondering why one has not been issued to anyone yet.
It doesnt make any sense to me, he said.
Not about money
Storm is now suing Jacob Bunker in Allen Superior Court for the wrongful death of his daughter.
He doesnt expect much, if any, money from a 20-year-old, he said. And he insists its not about money, but rather about holding someone responsible.
In the meantime, Storm and his family are getting on as best as they can, he said.
He has a 12-year-old daughter at home, and his son just turned 18.
The family celebrated what would have been Ashley Storms 20th birthday last weekend.
Its pretty horrible, he said of many days since the crash. Its nothing anybody wants to go through.