An 18-wheeler crashed into a car and a school bus in East Texas Thursday evening, killing a coach and the driver of the 18-wheeler. The crash happened about 100 miles north east of Dallas, about 10 miles north of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and one mile south of Talco, Texas.
The truck was headed north on U.S. 271 when it swerved into the southbound lanes of the highway, striking the school bus, which was carrying the men’s track team for Mt. Pleasant ISD. The truck also struck a passenger vehicle, which was being driven by Angelica Beard, one of the assistant coaches for the women’s track team, killing her. The superintendent of Mt. Pleasant ISD said that the school bus driver, one of the coaches, was able to swerve the bus to avoid a direct, head-on collision. The women’s track team bus was several miles behind the men’s track team bus at the time of the crash.
The school bus was carrying 32 Mt. Pleasant ISD students and two coaches back from a track meet in Paris, Texas. The bus was about ten miles from its destination when the crash happened. Two coaches and 18 of the 32 students were injured in the crash, with one coach and one student being airlifted in severe condition to Parkland hospital in Dallas.
The driver of the 18-wheeler was 50-year-old Bradley Ray Farmer, of Bogard, Missouri.
Glasheen, Valles & Inderman represented four students involved in a semi-truck-school-bus wreck in 2010 near Big Lake, Texas. In that case, the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and his truck rear ended a school bus. Our clients had multiple injuries including broken legs. We hired sleep deprivation experts and truck driving experts to show the nature and dangers of driving while fatigued. We located several former employees of the defendant who testified that driving fatigue was a regular problem that went unaddressed. With the help of our team, our clients received the best orthopedic medical care and therapy. We helped our clients structure the settlement to ensure that the children will have an opportunity to attend any college and helped them establish a secure lifetime income. Glasheen, Valles & Inderman obtained a $6.28 Million jury verdict in October in a case involving a semi truck rear-ending a passenger vehicle causing permanent paralysis.
Tanya Jones was killed around 1:50 a.m. Sunday morning when the 2014 Mazda she was driving was rear-ended by a 2011 red Chevrolet Camaro driven by 24-year-old Maxwell Lee Ezell. Both drivers were travelling westbound at the 6200 block of 19th Street.
Ezell failed several field sobriety tests and was taken to UMC for a blood draw. He was later booked into Lubbock County Detention Center on charges of intoxication manslaughter. Ezell’s Camaro struck a pickup truck after rear-ending Jones’s Mazda. The driver of the pickup truck was uninjured, but described seeing the Mazda “fly through the air” after being hit.
Ezell had several bar receipts in his pockets at the time of his arrest, including one with a serve time of 1:29 a.m. In Texas, bars have a duty to not over-serve patrons. The failure to do so could make the bar partially responsible for the crash and the injuries that resulted.
2016 was one of the deadliest in recent history in terms of traffic-related fatalities. As compared to 2015, fatalities rose 6% in 2016 to an estimated 40,200 according to the National Safety Council. 2015 was also one of the deadliest, with an increase in deaths over 2014. The last time fatalities were this high was in 2007 at 41,000.
The increase is attributed partially to an increase in driving, spurred on by low gas prices. Experts estimate that there was a 3% increase in driving. In the last three years, 13 states have increased speed limits on at least one of their interstate highways. A 5 mph increase from 70 mph to 75 mph means a vehicle has 15% more energy.
Driver distraction is also an increasing cause of accidents in the U.S. Human error is the cause of more than 90% of crashes, so the looming self-driving-car revolution will likely make a large difference. However, the safety features that are becoming more common in new vehicles—like emergency braking and lane departure assist—have not been enough to stem the large number of crashes and fatalities.
A New York court recently held that a street’s dangerous design and the city’s “unjustifiable delay in implementing a remedial plan” were partially responsible for a 2004 crash that left a 12-year-old boy with multiple skull fractures and diminished mental capacity. Brooklyn has seen four fatalities on Gerritsen Ave in the past decade. The city announced in 2015 that it will redesign the street to include a protected bike lane and safety islands for pedestrians to shorten the distance to cross at a single time.
Hoping that the court ruling discourages cities from attempting to obtain unanimous approval from citizens before implementing smarter and safer road designs, Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, was happy with the outcome. “The scientific verdict has been in for several years: traffic calming works to save lives and prevent injuries.”
Roper Copelin, of Amarillo, passed away Sunday morning after succumbing to his injuries in an electrical fire that occurred in downtown Amarillo Saturday around 2:00 p.m. Copelin and another electrician, Keath Garrison, were working on the second floor of the Excel building, which is under construction in downtown Amarillo, when they were shocked. The electric shocks also caused a fire to break out. Copelin and Garrison were airlifted to the burn unit at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, where Copelin later died. Copelin and Garrison were working for A-1 Electric at the time. GoFundMe pages have been set up for the two men and their families, here and here.
In the recent years, Pennsylvania has converted many of its traditional intersections into roundabouts. State officials say this has led to a 90-percent reduction in fatal crashes at these intersections, and a 75-percent reduction in injury-causing crashes. Roundabouts replace a traditional intersection’s stop signs or traffic signals with a large circular median in the middle of the intersection around which traffic flows. Vehicles may proceed into the roundabout only when there is no traffic in the roundabout to their left.
Roundabouts have co-existed peacefully with humans in other countries throughout Europe like the U.K. and France, and elsewhere like Australia for decades. However, roundabouts are a relatively rare and new traffic control device in the United States. Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation has published a web page and YouTube video dedicated to educating Pennsylvania drivers about how to navigate roundabouts in the hopes of further increasing safety.
Pennsylvania isn’t the only state recognizing the value of roundabouts. Many new developments around the country, including in Utah, are opting for the safer interchange. There is even a web site creatively titled Roundabouts USA, which is “dedicated to free traffic flow through the design and use of roundabouts” and offers “the most recent news and information about the progress of roundabouts in the USA.”
The city of Swarthmore, Penn., converted one of its busiest, most-dangerous, and confusing intersections into a roundabout in July 2015. Residents were very weary to such an unfamiliar traffic control device when it was first proposed, but since its opening, nearly all of those who opposed the roundabout have come full circle in their opinion. One resident who had written a letter to the editor vehemently opposing the roundabout before it was completed later wrote a public apology admitting that the “roundy” as it’s known to locals is a success in terms of traffic throughput, beauty, safety, and accessibility.
Update: 12/4 12:30 p.m.: Garlock has been downgraded from serious to satisfactory condition. Cheerleaders Katie Kent and Kiara Hodge are also in satisfactory condition.
Update: 12/3 8:14 p.m.: Garlock has been downgraded to serious but stable condition at UMC in Lubbock. One of the people to first come upon the scene of the crash said that Garlock was pinned in the bus for more than an hour and a half before being freed.
Update: 12/3 6:35 p.m.: Garlock remains in critical condition at UMC in Lubbock. Cheerleader Katie Kent, who sustained a separated vertebrae, will not require surgery. She and another cheerleader, Kiara Hodge, are in satisfactory condition. The third cheerleader that was transported to Lubbock, Lynda Martinez, was released from the UMC Saturday evening.
DPS are also searching for a key witness of the crash. The witness, who drove a black Dodge Charger, is someone who stopped at the crash immediately after it happened, and DPS are searching for them to learn why a passenger vehicle slammed on it brakes in front of the semi-truck. “They may have seen what caused the car in front of the 18-wheeler to slam on its brakes,” DPS spokesperson Oscar Villareal said, “We don’t know why that car slammed on its brakes.” They are encouraged to contact DPS at (432) 498-2130 or email Villareal at Oscar.Villarreal@dps.texas.gov. *Update* That witness has been found. This witness may also be the person who braked in front of the semi, but news stories are conflicting.
Garlock, the driver of the bus was wearing a seat belt. Pope, the second adult in the bus was not wearing a seat belt. There were no other seat belts in the bus for the cheerleaders to wear. Eliphase, the truck driver, and his passenger were both wearing seat belts.
The bus that the cheerleaders and sponsors were in is currently impounded at Big Spring tow truck yard. The tow truck driver that responded to the scene described the crash: “It was very messy; it was pretty bad.”
Update: 12/3 6:25 p.m.: An account has been set up to benefit those who have been affected by the crash. The account information is listed as:
Pray for Iraan Benefit Fund – Fund 3230173
Brave National Bank
P.O. Box 577
Iraan, TX 79744
Update 12/3 4:58 p.m.: Texas DPS has released a preliminary report on the cause of the crash. The semi truck was driven by Nijmibere Eliphase, 40, of Richardson, Texas. He was driving a 2007 Freightliner tractor towing a semi-trailer in the outside eastbound lane of I-20. He swerved his truck when he saw a black passenger car slam on its brakes. During this maneuver, the truck crossed the center median and entered the westbound lanes of I-20.
The DPS report also states that Garlock was the driver of the bus, not Pope. It goes on to state that “Likely because of the school van’s configuration, DPS reported that Pope was not wearing a seat belt.” The seat belt status of the student cheerleaders was listed as “n/a” on the DPS report.
The roadway was wet, and the speed limit at this section of I-20 is 75 miles per hour. The 9-1-1 call came in at 10:46 p.m. Friday night. The Iraan-Sheffield ISD bus was a 2015 Chevrolet van.
Update 12/3 1:31 p.m.: Christina Garlock, the second adult in the bus, has broken ankles, legs, ribs, a pelvis, and bone in her back. One cheerleader has fractures in her spine. Another cheerleader has a fractured skull and jaw. A third cheerleader was intubated. Those three cheerleaders and Garlock are in Lubbock at UMC. One cheerleader got stitches in her elbow and a sling for 10 days, as well as a broken nose. The other three cheerleaders have scrapes and bruises and were treated and released.
Update 12/3 10:44 a.m.: One of the adult sponsors, Liz Castaneda Pope, 52, has died. Pope’s sister, Christina Garlock, 48, who was driving the bus, is currently being treated at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas. Pope and Garlock were the two adult sponsors on the bus. According to School Board President of Iraan-Sheffield ISD, Margaret G. Holmes, the Castaneda family is a large family in Iraan, and Pope and Garlock were particularly involved in the school district. Three of the cheerleaders were also taken to UMC in Lubbock. Two people have broken legs, and another has a broken leg and broken arm. One person had to be intubated in order to help her breath properly. The other three cheerleaders have been treated and released.
Original Post 12/3 9:23 a.m.: A crash late Friday night between an 18-wheeler and a short bus sent all eight bus passengers—two adult sponsors and six cheerleaders—to Big Spring’s Scenic Mountain Medical Center. Two are in critical condition, and two are in serious condition. The Iraan-Sheffield ISD bus was carrying cheerleaders home to Iraan, Texas, from a quarter-final playoff football game that took place in Colorado City, Texas. The crash happened in the westbound lanes of Interstate 20, between mile markers 174 and 176, just outside of Big Spring, Texas, in Howard County. Eight people were taken to Scenic Mountain Medical Center, and four of those people have been transferred to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas. There was likely some moisture on the roadways and there may have been fog at the time of the crash.
Details regarding the cause of the crash are still sparse at this moment, but it appears that the 18-wheeler was travelling eastbound on Interstate 20 and crossed the center median, entering the westbound lanes of I-20 and eventually hitting the bus head-on. According to some reports, the driver of the semi-truck was trying to avoid a different crash when he swerved across the median.
Professional truck drivers are held to a higher standard of care than non-commercial drivers, and often times crashes like these are caused by driver fatigue or distraction (update: a preliminary DPS report states that the truck driver was swerving to avoid a passenger vehicle in front of it that slammed on it’s brakes). Furthermore, there are many more regulations and restrictions placed on professional drivers, like a nation-wide ban on texting and driving, as well as limit on the number of hours they can operate, and the conditions they can operate in.
Contact an experienced personal injury law firm if you’ve been injured by an 18-wheeler. They know the important steps to take to preserve evidence early on in the case, like sending a preservation of evidence letter and obtaining a download of the semi’s data recorder. Glasheen, Valles & Inderman represented four students involved in a semi-truck-school-bus wreck in 2010 near Big Lake, Texas. In that case, the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and his truck rear ended a school bus. Our clients had multiple injuries including broken legs. We hired sleep deprivation experts and truck driving experts to show the nature and dangers of driving while fatigued. We located several former employees of the defendant who testified that driving fatigue was a regular problem that went unaddressed. With the help of our team, our clients received the best orthopedic medical care and therapy. We helped our clients structure the settlement to ensure that the children will have an opportunity to attend any college and helped them establish a secure lifetime income.
A woman in her 40’s and an infant child were killed when the sedan they were in was hit by a semi truck in northeast Travis County Tuesday evening. The names of the victims have not been released yet. Authorities are still investigating, trying to determine what caused the crash. The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. near the intersection of Highway 290 and Highway 130.
Professional truck drivers are held to a higher standard of care than non-commercial drivers, and often times crashes like these are caused by driver fatigue or distraction. Furthermore, there are many more regulations and restrictions placed on professional drivers, like a nation-wide ban on texting and driving, as well as limit on the number of hours they can operate, and the conditions they can operate in.
Contact an experienced personal injury law firm if you’ve been injured by an 18-wheeler. They know the important steps to take to preserve evidence early on in the case, like sending a preservation of evidence letter and obtaining a download of the semi’s data recorder. Glasheen, Valles & Inderman obtained a $6.28 Million jury verdict in October in a case involving a semi truck rear-ending a passenger vehicle causing permanent paralysis.
To be eligible to win you must (1) like our Facebook Page, and (2) submit your name and phone number between 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Thursday during the parade live, in person, at our office at 1101 Montana Ave, which is right on the parade route and only one block away from the review stands!
The winner will be drawn shortly after 11:30 a.m., and we will announce it on our Facebook Page as well as call the winner at the phone number on the winning slip that was drawn. Note: If we draw a slip and we cannot confirm that that person has liked our Facebook Page, we will continue to draw slips until we find one who has liked our page, so don’t forget to like our page! The winner can pick up the headphones from our office next week between 8:30 and 5:00.
We will also have free hot cocoa! So stop on by, meet our lovely staff, enjoy the parade, and enter for your chance to win some amazing headphones just in time for the holiday season!
Seat belt use in the United States has reached an all-time high of 90% in the year 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts saved nearly 14,000 lives during 2015 alone and an estimated 345,000 lives since 1975.
A very interesting statistic pulled from the DOT Research Note is the difference in seat belt use between primary enforcement states—92.1%—and secondary enforcement states—83.0%. Primary enforcement means a peace officer can pull a vehicle over for a seat belt violation, whereas in secondary enforcement states, a peace offer cannot pull a vehicle over for that reason, but if the vehicle is already pulled over for another reason, like speeding, then the officer can issue a ticket for a seat belt violation.
NHTSA credits the increased seat belt use rate to national campaigns such as Click-it-or-Ticket and even the famous advertising campaigns from the 1990s like Vince and Larry, the crash test dummies. One could say that with less than 10% of Americans not wearing their all-important, life-saving seat belts, that you’d have to be dummy to not buckle up.