Texas College Softball Team Devastated by Truck-Bus Accident
Four women, all members of the North Central Texas College softball team, were killed last Friday night when an 18-wheeler crossed the center median and collided with the team bus, which was carrying 15 players at the time, on Interstate 35 near the Texas-Oklahoma border.
According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the softball team was returning to North Central Texas College in Gainesville, Texas, after playing a practice game with the Southern Nazarene University softball team in Bethany, Oklahoma earlier that day.
The truck was traveling northbound, and as the road gently curved to the right, the truck continued moving straight ahead, about 800 feet through the median before it hit the bus, which was going southbound. Based on the initial investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are no signs that the truck attempted to apply the brakes, or maneuver to avoid crashing into the bus. After hit the bus, the truck kept going and eventually left the other side of the road. Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers say that it took them nearly an hour to find the truck after the accident.
So far, investigators have found no problems with the with the truck’s brakes, and they’re still downloading information from the truck data recorder, which could conceivably confirm whether or not the brakes have been applied. An officer who interviewed the truck driver, 53-year-old Russell Staley, of Saginaw, Texas, said that he reported being distracted by something inside the cabin, although police did not elaborate on what the distraction was. Th Te are currently no charges pending against Staley, who was driving for Nashville, Tennessee-based Quickway Transportation, and was pulling a Hiland Dairy trailer.
The accident left four young women dead. The victims, who were later identified as Meagan Richardson, Katelynn Woodlee, Jaiden Pelton and Brooke Deckard, were all between the ages of 18 and 20. At least 10 other women were injured in the accident, including two who are still in the hospital. According to investigators, some of the women on the bus were asleep, and only woke up when the bus started to roll. Immediately after the bus was hit everything went dark. Some reported only hearing people screaming and shouting and sirens.
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), until this accident, Quickway drivers had not been involved in a fatal accident for about two years. It had also been six years since the company had last been penalized for a safety violation, although several of their drivers have been ticketed for distracted driving, mostly for using hand-held phones.
Crashes like these are not rare. In 2013, there were more than 4200 fatalities attributed to crashes that involved a large truck or bus, and that number has been relatively steady for the last four years.
Accidents such as these are always devastating, and the families of these young women deserve answers to the numerous questions that arise from an accident like this. Thorough investigations will be conducted, and those who are at fault should be held responsible. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a terrible accident involving a large truck and/or a bus, please contact the Truck Accident Injury Lawyer at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, so that we can conduct a thorough investigation and help you protect your rights.