2 families suing over fatal Washington Blvd. flash floods

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PITTSBURGH - Surviving relatives of four people killed in flash flooding in Pittsburgh in August 2011 are suing several government and private entities claiming the deaths could have been prevented.

Mary Saflin, 72, was swept away from her vehicle and drowned in the torrential waters, and 45-year-old Kimberly Griffith and her two daughters, Brenna and Mikaela, were trapped in their van and died when heavy rains caused a 9-foot wall of water to sweep down a low-lying section of Washington Boulevard.

Christopher Griffith, husband of victim Kimberly Griffith, said he continues to grieve over the loss of his family.

“I miss her terribly. I miss my daughters. I looked forward to watching them grow up. I won't have that chance now,” said Griffith.

At a press conference Friday morning, attorneys Alan Perer and Paul Manion announced the lawsuit against the city, its water and sewer authority, Allegheny County and its sewage authority, PennDOT, an engineering firm and even Chrysler Group LLC, which made the Griffiths' van.

“I'm angry it's gone on for 60 years.  I'm not really thrilled with the response I've seen since then. Mayor Ravenstahl promised support; I’ve never heard from the Mayor’s office,” said Griffith.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl released the following statement: "My heart aches for the victims of the Washington Boulevard tragedy and their families. While I can only imagine the pain these families continue to go through, I understand their frustration. I want to ensure them, and the public, that we've taken action to make sure a terrible tragedy like this never happens again."

The attorneys said they have new evidence that suggests the city and county knew the danger of swift, violent flooding on Washington Boulevard for a long time, and while plans to correct the problems were drawn up, they were never implemented.

“If any of these defendants had done anything for more than 60 years, it could have prevented this terrible tragedy,” said Perer.