Debris in the road involved in Deputy Norsworthy’s fatal crash

Smith & Hassler previously posted a blog entry regarding the tragic accident involving Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputy John Norsworthy and the severe injuries he sustained.  Sadly Deputy Norsworthy ultimately succumbed to his injuries in hospital and passed away, leaving a wife and two children. Texas DPS officers investigating the deputy’s crash have now concluded that two factors may have contributed to the deputy’s accident: another motorist’s failure to yield the right-of-way to the deputy’s cruiser and debris in the roadway.

The accident happened two days after Christmas when Deputy Norsworthy was closely following another cruiser on northbound FM762: the deputies were en route to assist with the stop of what was believed to be a stolen car. The DPS has released a statement that video footage from the dashboard cameras of both cruisers show a 4 foot square board, probably made of a thick cardboard type material used as sound-deadening material, had fallen from a truck and was in the middle of the two-lane road as the cruisers approached.

In addition to the road debris a green-colored Ford Expedition failed to yield the deputies by pulling over to the shoulder to the right to allow them to pass. The driver of the Expedition was later tracked down thanks to a tip and she signed a statement that while the car accident happened in front of her she did not think she was involved so she kept going. The lead patrol car cut to the left to go around the Expedition and in doing so drove over the board, the draft of the passing police car causing the board to lift up off the roadway. When Deputy Norsworthy tried to pass the Expedition, the board gave the appearance of a barrier so he swerved to try to avoid it, but his car left the roadway, entered a ditch and crashed into a tree, pinning him for more than an hour. He died of his injuries a week later on January 4, 2011.

State transportation records show that debris on Texas’ roadways has contributed to 2,728 vehicle crashes in the past 5-years.  In fact former mayor of Dallas Ron Kirk was injured when a ladder left on I-30 was sucked-up by a passing 18-wheeler and smashed through his windshield. During that 5-year span, 756 injuries and 9 deaths have been caused by road debris accidents. Investigators are trying to determine how the board, which was manufactured by Bison Construction, got onto the roadway, but acknowledge they may never find out.