Lawsuits confirmed against Trucking Firm
Two lawsuits have been filed in Tarrant County against Quickway Transportation and its driver, Russell Wayne Staley of Saginaw, following a Sept. 26 crash that killed four college softball teammates.
The parents of Brooke Deckard filed their suit in district court Monday. Deckard, 20, of Blue Ridge; Jaiden Pelton, 19, of Telephone; Meagan Richardson, 19, of Wylie; and Katelynn Woodlee, 18, of Dodd City were killed in the wreck.
Staley’s northbound truck crossed the grass median of Interstate 35 about 47 miles into Oklahoma and slammed into the southbound bus that was returning the team to North Central Texas College in Gainesville after a game.
Another lawsuit was filed Friday on behalf of Rachel Hitt, 19, of Scurry. She was one of two players, both from Kaufman County, who required several days of hospital treatment.
Each suit seeks a jury trial and more than $1 million in damages.
The suits accuse 53-year-old Staley of distracted driving and say that Quickway was negligent in letting him drive.
Investigations into the crash are expected to take several weeks. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is conducting a criminal investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting a safety investigation that could lead to possible road improvements at the site near Davis, Okla.
Investigators have said the truck left the roadway at highway speed, 70 mph, and crossed about 950 feet of median without braking or swerving. However, some deceleration may have occurred, and no statement has been made about speed at impact.
“In all reasonable probability, plaintiff will continue to suffer from these injuries for the rest of her life,” Hitt’s suit reads. Her Dallas-based attorney, Frank Branson, said Tuesday that Hitt continues to be evaluated to determine the extent of her injuries.
Her parents released a statement through Norman Regional Health System on Sept. 29, expressing heartache for teammates and thanking first responders.
Her suit asks Quickway to release Staley’s employment and safety records and his drug and alcohol test results. He was released from the hospital after the wreck and has not been charged with any offense.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration records show that Quickway had not been involved in a fatal accident in two years and had not faced federal safety-related penalties in at least six years.
The company website continues to post a Sept. 28 letter from its chief executive offering condolences to the crash victims. Quickway officials did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
“This was a preventable crash,” Branson said. “We are committed to making sure that Quickway takes responsibility for the safety shortcomings that have now affected so many lives.”
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Source: Dallas News "Truck firm, driver sued over crash that killed 4 softball players". RAY LESZCYNSKI, October 07, 2014