According to a new report with more details about an accident between a tractor-trailer and a bus carrying a Texas college softball team, Oklahoma State Police later found a pipe used to smoke marijuana and a bag of prescription drugs in the truck’s cab.
The accident occurred on Sept. 26, when the driver of a truck owned by Quickway Transportation, Inc., 53-year-old Russell Staley of Saginaw, Texas, failed to properly negotiate a curve, causing the truck to veer off of Interstate 35 in Oklahoma. The truck drove across the grass median before striking the bus, which was going to opposite way in the other lane, killing four members of the North Central Texas College softball team and injuring nearly a dozen others.
Due to the nature of the accident, police are conducting a thorough criminal investigation, even though there have been no charges brought to date. As part of their investigation, they took inventory of the contents of the truck’s cab on Sept. 28, after a warrant was obtained. Among the items in that inventory include what police describe as a “Silver Smoking Pipe w/assembly emitting an odor of burnt marihuana,” and a black Husky bag containing four prescription drugs, which were prescribed by a physician in Dallas, including: trazodone, an antidepressant that is also sometimes used to treat tension and sleeplessness and sertraline, a generic version of Zoloft, an antidepressant that is also sometimes used for treatment of anxiety and panic. Both of these drugs include drowsiness as one of its side effects.
Police have noted that Staley showed no signs of impairment after the accident, but they continue to investigate whether or not any drugs, illegal or legal, were a factor in the crash. They also expect full toxicology reports from both drivers in the accident, based on blood samples taken at the scene, within eight weeks of the date of the accident, which is standard procedure.
The four softball players killed in the accident were Jaiden Pelton of Telephone, Texas and Meagan Richardson, of Wylie, Texas, both of whom were 19; Katelynn Woodlee, of Dodd City, Texas, who was 18; and 20-year-old Brooke Deckard, of Blue Ridge, Texas.
The families of these young women deserve answers, as do the families of the players who were injured. In addition to Oklahoma police, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is also conducting a thorough investigation. There is a lot to look at in this case, including the usual factors such as the skills and abilities of the driver or drivers and the mechanical condition or possible defects in both vehicles. But with the evidence of drugs in the cabin of the tractor-trailer, another wrinkle should be looked at. If drugs are discovered to be a factor in the accident, other parties may have had some level of fault in the accident, including drug companies, or even physicians. Also, Quickway knew he had been prescribed those drugs, and what steps did they take to mitigate the risks?
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in an accident involving any type of vehicle, please contact the knowledgeable and experienced 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.