Defendants in a $25 million lawsuit over the train deaths of Michael Hennen and Hannah Barnes have denied any liability in the Aug. 22, 2011, incident and say Ms. Barnes made the choice to lie down on the tracks.
The answers to the Circuit Court complaint filed by Lisa Barnes, mother of Hannah Barnes, point to the conclusion of Sheriff Jim Hammond - that it was "a tragic accident."
Mr. Hennen and Ms. Barnes, who worked at Hennen's Restaurant together, died when they were run over by a Norfolk Southern train on tracks at McDonald's Farm.
The defendants said a probe by the sheriff's department into the incident turned up the fact that Hannah Barnes contained a fake ID that allowed her to purchase alcohol, though she was underage. Ms. Barnes was 19 and Mr. Hennen was just short of his 28th birthday.
Lisa Barnes "knew or should have known" about her daughter's alleged false ID, it was stated.
The defendants said Ms. Barnes could have used the fake ID to purchase alcohol for herself that night and early morning.
The answers say that Hennen's Restaurant has a strict policy of not serving to those who are underage. The defendants denied that Ms. Barnes was provided alcohol at a birthday party for the mother of Mr. Hennen, Corrine McDonald Hennen, at the restaurant on the night prior to the incident.
The defendants said they did not know of any witnesses who saw either Mr. Hennen or Ms. Barnes with alcohol that night or early morning.
They said Hannah Barnes "chose to lay down across the railroad tracks and was negligent in looking out for her own safety."
Attorneys for Norfolk Southern said the engineer did not see the couple on the track. They said the conductor did realize there was a person on the track "just prior to impact", but said it was too late to notify the conductor to sound the horn or brake the train.
Attorneys for the defendants, Al Henry, Robert Carden, Thomas Hickey Jr. and Glenn Beckham of Greenwood, Miss., said the Barnes lawsuit should be dismissed.