Archive for September, 2010

3 family members dead after apparent street racing wreck

Mayra Castillo Torres (37) and her teenage son Christopher Nuno (14) were killed when a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe struck their Nissan minivan along North Gessner Driver near Brookriver Drive at about 4:15pm Monday. Harris County Sheriff’s spokesperson Sgt. Susan Cotter has issued a statement that, according to witnesses, the 17-year old driver of the Tahoe was racing another vehicle driving alongside him. When Ms. Torres pulled away from a stop sign, the Tahoe hit her vehicle. Torres and Nuno were killed on impact. Nuno was a student at Jersey Village High School and was just leaving band practice when the accident happened. 6-year old Katia Nuno, Christopher’s sister, died at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital on Tuesday.  The teenage driver of the Tahoe involved in the fatal collision gave a statement to a Houston area television station on Tuesday denying that he was engaged in a race at the time, and stated he was driving alongside a friend who had a “loud truck” which is probably why witnesses thought he was racing. The driver claimed he was speeding perhaps a little bit above the 50MPH speed limit. The Sheriff’s Department will conduct a full reconstruction of the fatal collision to determine exactly what happened, which will probably include downloading crash data from the “black boxes” of the vehicles involved. Christopher and his mother were in the front seats and were buckled at the time of the collision, however Katia may not have been.

Man dies in motorcycle accident after fall from elevated ramp

In the second accident this week in Houston involving a motor vehicle falling from height, a man was killed when he lost control of his Yamaha RS motorbike and fell at least 40 feet from an elevated entrance ramp leading from I-10 to US-59. The accident occurred at around 12:30am this morning and the man was transported to Ben Taub general hospital where he was pronounced dead. Apparently the man lost control and hit the retaining wall before being thrown from the motorbike and over the guard rail to the traffic lanes below. A driver of an 18-wheeler who saw the motorcycle and rider fall was able to stop his truck in time before hitting the motorcyclist. Police think the 31-year old man, who had no motorcycle license, was driving too fast when he entered the ramp.

Houston driver dies when car crashes into bayou

Early Sunday morning a man died in Houston when his car crashed through a bridge and into the bayou below. The man was driving a Chevrolet Impala in the 6800 block of Lawndale around 2:45am when he left his travel lane.  The car crashed through the guard rail and fell more than 20 feet into the water below. The man’s body was recovered by a police dive team.

Watch video of the incident here.

2 workers burned at BP’s Texas City plant

BP has issued a statement that two workers at its Texas City plant were admitted to hospital after suffering burns caused by steam.  The accident happened at approximately 4:00pm on Tuesday September 21st as the workers were working at Pipestill 3B.  One injured worker was life-flighted to UTMB Galveston and the other taken by ambulance to Mainland Medical Center in Texas City. The beleaguered BP Texas City plant is the site of the 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170 more.  The refinery is currently under investigation for an apparent 41-day release of Benzene that occurred at the same time as the explosion on the Deep Horizon rig.

Car accident deaths at lowest level since 1950

The Transportation Department is reporting that traffic deaths fell 9.7 percent in 2009 to 33,808 fatalities, the lowest number since 1950.   In 2008 an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways.  A total of 41 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico saw reductions in fatalities, lead by Florida which had 422 fewer deaths, and Texas which was down 405 deaths. Economic downturns are often accompanied by a reduction in motor vehicle fatalities because people are out traveling the roads less in a bad economy, but last year’s reduction in the number of fatal accidents on roads came at a time when the estimated number of miles traveled by motorists increased by 0.2% over 2008 levels.  The annual highway safety report also found that:

* Motorcycle deaths broke a string of 11 years of increases, falling 16% from 5,312 motorbike accident deaths in 2008 to 4,462 in 2009

* Alcohol impaired driving deaths declined 7.4% in 2009 to 10,839 deaths due to drunk driving, compared with 11,711 in 2008.

Police officer injured in wreck with suspected drunk driver

A collision occurred early this morning in midtown Houston when a police officer’s patrol car collided with a white-colored Chevrolet Impala driven by a 19-year old man suspected of drunk driving.  The two-car collision occurred at Gray and Louisiana at approximately 2:20am. The injured officer was rushed to Memorial Hermann–Texas Medical Center with complaints of neck and back pain, and fortunately he sustained no broken bones. The suspect, who was arrested at the scene, t-boned the officer’s patrol car in an intersection. The Impala had two passengers who reportedly told officers that they had just left a nightclub and their driver had been running red lights prior to the collision. A wrecker driver witnessed the collision and stated the officer had the green light in the intersection.  The Houston Chronicle’s story is here.

Unfortunately experience tells us this will probably be one of many injury accidents caused by drunk drivers in the Houston area this weekend. Harris County leads the nation in drunk-driving injury accidents. If you have been injured due to the gross negligence of a drunk driver, call the attorneys at Smith & Hassler for a free consultation.

Airbag failed to protect Liberty County car accident victim

Brianne Haltom was involved in a one-car accident in Liberty County last November when a previously undiagnosed medical condition caused her to have a seizure and veer off the road. Her car slammed into a tree causing her head to strike the steering wheel: her airbag did not deploy.  Brianne suffered facial fractures and a brain injury that required her to be put in a medically induced coma.  She also suffered an eye injury.

Despite the severe front end impact to Brianne’s pickup truck, while the passenger side airbag did deploy, Brianne’s steering wheel airbag did not. This phenomena is referred to as a “split deployment.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 22,500 lives have been saved by airbags since 1998 and that in 2006 airbags deployed in 1.1 million crashes nationwide.

After Local 2 aired a story about 2-years ago on airbag failures the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published the findings of a study in a March 2009 status report.  Looking at a sample of fatal front end car crashes it was determined an estimated 50 to 100 deaths occur per year involving potential airbag failures, which is 1 to 2 percent of all deaths of person riding in the front seats in frontal crashes.

Click2Houston’s full story is available here.

18-wheeler transporting human waste wrecks on I-45 in Houston

The you-kn0w-what hit the fan yesterday when an 18-wheeler transporting human waste crashed and rolled onto its side on I-45 in Houston.  The apparent cause of the wreck was a tire from a tanker truck that rolled under the big rig. Houston police report that the tire went over the central divider and into oncoming traffic at which time the tire got lodged under the 18-wheeler, the driver lost control, hit a guardrail and the rig went onto its side. Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt in the accident, and the freeway was closed for approximately 4 hours as the scene was cleared. Luckily for those involved in the cleanup operation, no human waste was spilled. Click2Houston’s report is here.

Family’s lawyer says speed a factor in fatal HPD car wreck

An independent accident reconstruction expert has reviewed information related to a collision between a Baylor medical scientist and his wife and a City of Houston Police Department patrol car driven by a first year officer.  Professor Estela Medrano (67) was killed in the collision and her husband Jorge Medrano (71) was seriously injured.  The collision occurred when the couple’s Toyota Scion turned left in front of Officer Kyle Dozier’s police car in the dark. Houston attorney Richard LaGarde who represents the Medranos has stated that HPD told him accident reconstruction expert that Officer Dozier was driving 57MPH, 22MPH over the speed limit, when the car accident occurred.  Officer Dozier was responding to an emergency call but had not activated his flashing lights or sirens. Mr. Medrano remained in Ben Taub General Hospital where he is being treated for a serious head injury. The Medranos four adult children are calling for a review of the HPD’s policies for officers responding to emergency calls and the use of sirens and emergency lights. The Houston Chronicle’s story is here.

Driver burned in 18-wheeler crash on Houston freeway

A Dr. Pepper delivery truck flipped over a guardrail and crashed to the freeway below on Monday September 6th. The 18-wheeler had been traveling on Highway 288 when it fell to Highway 59 below. The big-rig fell about 40 feet and burst into flames when it crashed to the ground. Unfortunately the truck driver sustained serious injury when he was burned over almost half his body; he also suffered two broken legs. Tex DOT will ensure both roadways are structurally sound before traffic is allowed back in the area. story is here.