Clear Creek Amana School District Settles with Lown Family

By Erin Jordan, Reporter


By Kayleigh Milas

JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa - The Clear Creek Amana School District has paid $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the parents of Mackenzie Lown, who was killed in a 2011 car crash following a CCA cross-country practice.

The district denies liability for the crash, according to the Oct. 8 settlement agreement CCA’s attorney provided The Gazette Thursday. The four-page document is signed by Lown’s parents, Michael Lown and Kelly Smith.

Lown, 14, died Oct. 17, 2011, when the car in which she was riding crossed the center line of Highway 6 and struck an oncoming minivan.
The driver of the car, Zachary Swenka, 20, of North Liberty, pleaded guilty last month to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison. Swenka had been driving Lown and four other classmates back from a cross-country practice when the students said he started driving at speeds up to 100 mph.

Swenka and the other students were injured, as were the people in the minivan, Bryan and Toni Cooling, of Oxford.

Lown’s parents sued Swenka in February 2012, but dismissed that suit in June 2012 and filed a replacement lawsuit against the CCA district. They alleged the district violated its own policy by failing to provide safe transportation for student-athletes.

Michael Lown and Smith dismissed the suit as part of the settlement, but that didn’t stop Lown from criticizing the district at Swenka’s Oct. 24 hearing.

“In the last 20 years, 11 teenagers have been killed at Clear Creek Amana,” Lown said during his victim-impact statement. “I want that culture changed. I want people in that community to know it’s not O.K. to do what you did.”

The Coolings filed a lawsuit Oct. 14 against Swenka, the school district and the owner of the Chevrolet Lumina Swenka was driving. They are seeking compensation for their injuries and punitive damages against the defendants.

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