Archive for January, 2012

Pickup driver seriously injured in head-on collision on Dixie Road

Channel 11 is reporting a head-on collision that left a pickup truck driver seriously injured and killed the driver of a car. Police say that the car was driving eastbound on Dixie near Tucker in Houston around 1:40am on Sunday January 29, 2012 when the car crossed the center line and went into oncoming traffic, striking the pickup truck head-on. The driver of the pickup was taken to Ben Taub general hospital in serious condition and the car driver was killed on impact. The names of the drivers were not available in the article and police are investigating to determine what caused the accident.

The driver of this car died and the pickup driver was seriously injured in a head-on collision on Dixie Road in Houston.

If you, a friend or a family member have been injured in a car accidentSmith & Hassler’s experienced personal injury attorneys are available to give you a free consultation either in-person or by phone.  Sometimes people injured in car accident wait before consulting an attorney. They have good intentions: not wanting to seem “sue happy,” waiting to see if their injuries will get better or because aninsurance adjuster is discouraging them from seeking legal advice (that happens).  It is better to know your rights early in the process and have an experienced Houston personal injury attorney explain the steps involved in car accident injury claim and what you can do NOW to increase the chances of a good outcome.

Jerad Thomas found sleeping on stairway after fatal hit-and-run with bike

Harris County Sheriff Deputies had to wrestle and then Tase hit-and-run driver Jerad Thomas to take him into custody after a fatal hit-and-run collision in northwest Harris County. The deadly wrecked happened on southbound Jones Road near Fallbrook when a 53-year old man riding his bicycle was hit by a man driving a cargo van. The victim on the bicycle was transported to the hospital but died shortly after that. Police were able to identify the cargo van because the license plate was dislodged at the scene of the accident. The van owner indicated he had loaned the vehicle to a friend; when officers accompanied the owner to the friend’s apartment they found Jerad Thomas asleep in the stairway of his apartment with the van keys underneath his body. Thomas initially resisted the officers when they woke him but was brought into compliance when deputies Tased him. Thomas admitted to driving the van but had no recollection of hitting anything. He will be charged with driving while intoxicated, resisting arrest and possibly other charges.

According to Harris County criminal records, this represents 36-year old Thomas’ third DWI arrest.

Jerad Thomas has been charged in a January 24, 2012 fatal hit-and-run

Smith & Hassler’s attorneys aggressively pursue drunk drivers and their insurance companies in order to compensate those injured or bereaved by the gross negligence of intoxicated motorists.

Keylon Napper struck by hit and run Toyota driver on Rio Bonito

At around 7:30pm on Thursday January 19, 2012 Keylon Napper was walking on Rio Bonito near Howell Sugarland Road when he was struck by a late model red-colored Toyota car. 26-year old Keylon was walking on Rio Bonito on his way to work at HEB when the Toyota left the roadway and struck him. The driver of the Toyota then stopped and got out to check on him, but then got back in the vehicle and left the scene. Napper and his family live in apartments near the scene: family members heard a crash and someone screaming. Napper’s brother-in-law Brian Henderson ran from his apartment to the scene and found Napper covered in blood: Napper was life-flighted to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he was listed as being in stable condition.

Hopefully the hit-and-run driver of the red Toyota can be identified by law enforcement or will do the right thing and turn themselves in. There is no legitimate reason for a driver who hits a pedestrian to leave the scene of an accident; in fact failure to stop and render aid is a criminal offense under the Texas Transportation Code. Many times drivers leave the accident scene because they have outstanding warrants, are intoxicated or do not have a valid driver’s license or insurance. Certainly we wish Keylon Napper a speedy recovery from his injuries.

18-wheeler hits, flips school bus in Temple, Texas sending 32 to hospital

A frightening accident unfolded today in Temple, Texas when an 18-wheeler apparently ran a stop sign, colliding with a school bus filled with children and causing the bus to flip onto its side. The accident happened around 7:30am on FM93 on the outskirts of Temple, Texas which is 60 miles northeast of Austin. A total of 32 people, 29 of them children, were sent to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple. Trooper Harpin Myers of the Texas DPS said the apparent cause of the accident was when the hardware truck (18-wheeler) ran a stop sign and hit the Academy school district bus. It was not readily apparent if foggy conditions were a factor in the wreck. The school bus driver was also listed in critical condition. A 9-year old boy was ejected through the escape hatch in the roof of the bus and the bus driver was knocked unconscious.

An 18-wheeler versus school bus crash in Temple, Texas on 01-19-2012 sent 32 to the hospital

Parents of the children riding in the school bus would be well advised to be extremely wary of settling their children’s claims, meeting with any insurance representatives or representatives of the 18-wheeler company, or signing any document that may affects their rights or their children’s ability to recover their damages. The most prudent approach would be to allow sufficient time to make sure their children are physically (and mentally) recovered or well on the road to recovery before resolving any legal claims. A precautionary visit to the pediatrician would be entirely appropriate given the severity of the collision. It would also be a good idea to consult with an experienced injury attorney who can fully explain their legal rights as parents and also the rights of their children. Although it doesn’t happen too often, unfortunately sometimes unscrupulous insurance representatives will rush injured persons or their family members into signing release documents very soon after an accident, usually before all injuries are fully understood.

Joe Gamez killed in accident with Antonio Segovia Trucking dump truck

57-year old Joe Gamez died yesterday when he was run over by a dump truck in north Houston. Mr. Gamez, who was an independent dump truck operator, and another man were working near the intersection of Duoto and West Tidwell on private land at around 12:30pm on January 18, 2012. A truck tire got stuck in the mud so Mr. Gamez walked behind it and told the other driver to reverse, then as the dump truck was backing up Gamez was hit. According to officials the dump truck belonged to Antonio Segovia Trucking. Channel 2’s report on the accident is available here.

Joe Gamez was struck and killed January 18, 2012 by a reversing dump truck

Smith & Hassler has over 20-years experience assisting bereaved Texans with wrongful deaths claims. If you have lost a loved one due to an accident, contact Smith & Hassler.

Dodge Charger driver pinned in vehicle in Eastex Freeway accident

Fire fighters cut the roof off the Dodge Charger to rescue the trapped driver

A multi-vehicle accident on the Eastex Freeway near Hopper left a driver trapped yesterday evening. The wrecked happened around 11:30pm when a pickup truck heading northbound on Eastex swerved into the lane next to it, sideswiping the Dodge Charger. The Charger driver lost control and was then rear-ended by a Mercedes. A red colored SUV attempting to avoid the wreck hit the retaining wall, and the Dodge Charger then crashed into the same retaining wall. HFD heavy rescue crews cut the roof off the Dodge Charger to get the driver out; unfortunately the driver of the pickup that caused the accident fled the scene.

In a situation where a hit-and-run driver is at fault for a collision and there is physical contact between the vehicles, the person(s) injured by the hit-and-run driver can make a claim for uninsured motorist (UM) benefits with their own insurance carrier (provided they have that coverage).

Teen driver killed, man injury when train hits car in Liberty County

A teenage driver died and his 20-year old male passenger was critically injured when a train hit their SUV on Friday January 13, 2012. The crash happened around 4:00pm in Liberty County near Highway 90 and FM 1909. It appears the driver may have attempted to drive around the crossing control arm immediately before the crash according to Captain Rex Evans with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. The passenger was taken by life flight to Memorial Hermann Hospital. ABC News’ report lists the driver’s age as 16 and states that train was operated by Kansas City Southern.

The teenager driver of this SUV was killed and his passenger critically injured in a train collision

2004-05 Ford Windstar and Mercury Monterey minivans recalled over power loss problem

Ford Motor Company has announced a recall of 2004-2005 model Ford Windstar and Mercury Monterey minivans. The recall action affects approximately 205,986 vehicles in the United States according to a statement from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The recall is happening because of the potential for the torque converter output shafts in the minivan powertrains to fail and cause a sudden loss of power. The recall is expected to begin the second quarter of 2012, and Ford will replace the torque converter in the recalled minivans. The NHTSA is only aware of two collisions probably attributable to the power loss problem in the Windstar and Monterey, one of those crashes involved injuries and the other did not. Still, the NHTSA announced the recall because the chances of a crash are increased due to a sudden power loss.

If you were injured in a crash involving a 2004 or 2005 Ford Windstar or Mercury Monterey minivan, contact Smith & Hassler to discuss a possible products liability case.

Funeral in Coleyville today for crash victim Kaat Debeuckelaer

An obituary for car crash victim Kaat Debeuckelaer published in the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Kaat’s funeral will be held today at the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Coleyville, Texas. Kaat’s family and friends will gather to pay their respect and say their goodbyes to the 21-year old University of Texas student who died tragically on January 5, 2012 in a single car accident along with Kaat’s boyfriend Kenneth “Kenny” Joseph Lark (23) and Southlake attorney Ronald Eddins (40).

It is clear that Kaat is going to be terribly missed by her family and friends. Kaat’s obituary includes the following tribute:

Her smile and bright blue eyes lit up every room she walked into. She loved her family and friends fiercely and would do anything to protect them. She had been a fighter ever since she was born prematurely, never giving up and working hard to achieve her dreams. Kaat had a positive impact on so many people during her brief time with us. She was the best listener and never judged. It didn’t matter whether she knew someone well or whether she had just met the person, she always made you feel at home. Her devotion spread to more than just her friends and family, as burnt orange ran through her blood. Kaat had so many more things to do. She had yet to see her Longhorns win a BCS Bowl game. She never got to walk into her first class at dental school. We will never see how the plans that she and Kenny made for their future blossom. They were so much in love and everyone who knew them was sure they would spend the rest of their lives together.

Kaat died January 5, 2012 while riding as a passenger in a Porsche Panamera sports car driven by Ronald Eddins. Preliminary findings by law enforcement investigating the accident suggest the Porsche was traveling at a high rate of speed when it left the roadway and crashed into the Las Colinas Canal near Dallas, Texas. Kaat and Kenny apparently had no prior connection to Eddins, and it appears a chance meeting at a hotel bar was the couple’s first encounter with the prominent Southlake lawyer.

Media reports state that a toxicology report is pending to determine whether alcohol was a factor in the crash. Presumably there will be an attempt by authorities to retrieve and analyze the event data recorder or “black box” from the Porsche Panamera to extract crash data, though whether the device will be operable after being submerged in water is an open question.

Kaat’s family has requested that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to a charity of the well-wisher’s choice.

Services for Kenny Joseph Lark will be held Saturday January 14, 2012 at Epiphany Lutheran Fellowship Hall in Houston, Texas. Kenny’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to a charity of the donor’s choice, or alternatively to the Kenneth J. Lark Memorial Fund.

Our prayers are with the young couple’s families.

Kaat Debeuckelaer and Kenny Lark

Kristina Tikal with Tomball Police Dept hit, injured by car during investigation

According to the Houston Chronicle, Tomball Police Department patrol officer Kristina Tikal suffered a fractured shoulder blade when she was knocked down by a vehicle during a January 2, 2012 incident. Officer Tikal apparently walked up on a 17-year old female about to have sex with a male companion in a parked vehicle: the teenager sped away from the scene, striking Officer Tikal. The officer also sustained a hip injury, an elbow injury and abrasions to her arms and legs: she was treated and released from Tomball Regional Hospital.

Apparently the scene unfolded when Officer Tikal was leaving her apartment to head to work and noticed a Honda Civic parked with the rear door open, and when she walked up on the vehicle the male and female were in the back of the vehicle with no pants on. As the officer radioed for backup the female climbed into the driver’s seat and put the Honda in reverse: she disregarded the officer’s instructions to stop and reversed at high speed, knocking the officer about 10 feet. The Honda also struck a parked pickup truck before speeding away. An anonymous tip lead police to the Honda’s location, and the female suspect who was at Tomball High School went with her mother to the police station.

The 17-year old female driver now faces felony charges of aggravated assault against a public servant, evading arrest and detention with a vehicle. Hopefully there is plenty of insurance on the Honda Civic: with a fractured shoulder blade and the other injuries, Officer Tikal may not be medically cleared to return to work for some time, not to mention the physical impairment associated with that kind of injury. In a situation like this, if an injured pedestrian such as Officer Tikal has underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, that coverage would apply to help cover damages if the at-fault driver does not have sufficient coverage. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage would apply if the at-fault driver did not have any insurance.

We certainly wish Officer Tikal a speedy recovery and return to patrol.

Tomball Police Department Patrol Officer Kristina Tikal (2nd from right), injured in a January 2, 2012 auto versus pedestrian incident.