By Matt Ward
The lone survivor from a 2011 house fire that killed four people is being sued by her former husband and his parents, according to a civil complaint obtained by the Pahrump Valley Times.
Sharon Broadhead, who lost three young children and her girlfriend when her Pahrump home burned on Feb. 9, 2011, is named alongside three other defendants.
Anthony Broadhead and his parents Trudi and Chad Broadhead, known best for their ownership of the Pahrump Speedway, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Sharon Michelle Field, Sharon Broadhead’s maiden name, as well as Jennie Wheeler, Charles Wheeler and Access Realty LLC.
The Wheelers are the owners of the Prospector Lane home that burned two years ago. Sharon was renting the home at the time and lived there with her children. Access Realty was the Wheelers’ property manager.
Sharon says the lawsuit has no merit and is merely an attempt by her ex-husband and his family to cash in on a terrible tragedy, and punish her as well.
“I was quite angry and hurt. I couldn’t believe that they would hit me below the belt like this,” she said. “With Anthony already moving on, getting remarried and having a child, you know, I left them alone, they should leave me alone.”
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 24 in Clark County District Court, just about two weeks before the statute of limitation for such a suit would have likely expired.
According to the lawsuit, Anthony is suing on behalf of the estates of Elliott and Zachary Broadhead, the two boys he had with Sharon during their marriage, which ended before the fire. A central claim in the lawsuit is that Sharon and her girlfriend, Crystal Smiley, had ingested painkillers and methamphetamine in the hours leading up to the fire. That claim may be hard to prove since police and a medical examiner found no illegal drugs in Sharon or Crystal’s system after the fire. Also, the lawsuit claims the home had two roofs, one of which was burned away by the fire, while the second one trapped smoke and carbon monoxide in the home, causing “heat and carbon monoxide levels from the fire to build up rapidly.”
“The second roof hindered the fire from venting through the roof and accelerated the spread of smoke and hot gasses through the home,” the civil complaint reads.
The plaintiffs are suing for multiple causes of action, including negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
Calls to Chad and Trudi Broadhead were not returned by press time. A phone number for Anthony Broadhead was unavailable. The family’s Las Vegas attorney, Zoe Terry, who filed the lawsuit, did not return a phone call to her office.
Sharon, meanwhile, says she doesn’t understand why she is being sued, particularly so close to the second anniversary of the deaths of her children.
“It triggers vivid memories. It triggers all the guilt of being a survivor. It triggers the memory of getting arrested just days after my sons perished,” she said.
The complaint is seeking thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and attorney’s fees. Sharon says she can’t even afford an attorney much less pay any damages.
“I’m tired of holding my head down. It’s about time I held my head high. I’ve dealt with this. It’ll be two years this Saturday. To hit me, to file on the 23rd (of January) and to serve me this last Saturday really was a way to knock me down really hard again. It’s nothing more than a way to make me replay everything again in my head,” she said about the lawsuit.
At one point she asked why all the donations given to her and Anthony weren’t enough for her former in-laws and former husband. She said Anthony received half of the charitable contributions when her children perished, and even used a Red Cross debit card, according to Sharon, to buy a new washer and dryer and bedroom suit for himself though he lost no personal possessions in the house fire.
“I am going to fight this. I think it is extremely wrong. This is something that I don’t know who came up with it. Somebody put this in their head to do this. They said they were going to leave me alone. This isn’t leaving me alone. This is torturing me. Were the donations not enough?” she asked.
Chad Broadhead recently told this newspaper’s sports section that he was struggling to keep the family’s speedway afloat financially. Sharon said she wondered if her former in-laws and husband think the lawsuit will help them keep it open.
“I believe this is about money, about greed and to see how much more they can put me through,” she said.
Sharon says she plans to respond to the suit within the next three weeks.