10 People Killed When Texas Prisoner Van Collides With Train


Four Other Occupants Seriously Injured in the Tragic Auto Accident

In a scene straight out of “The Fugitive” movie, eight prisoners and two guards are dead after their bus slid into the path of a freight train early Wednesday morning. The horrific accident happened at 7.30 a.m. on Interstate 20 in Ector County just outside of Penwell and Odessa. 

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice bus was transporting 12 male inmates from the Middleton Unit in Abilene to the Sanchez Unit in El Paso. Three corrections officers were also in the bus. The driver lost control on an icy overpass, hit a guardrail and then skidded down an embankment onto the railroad tracks. The van slammed into a passing train, which dragged the mangled vehicle until it was able to stop. The bus rolled over and landed on its side. Debris from the van and train cars littered the area next to the tracks. Although the train did not derail, a UPS train car spewed hundreds of packages and the content of boxes that had burst open during the impact.

The Union Pacific train was en route from Los Angeles to Arkansas and just happened to be on that stretch of rural road at the worst possible moment. The train was carrying cargo, but fortunately no passengers, and the only two employees on the train were a conductor and an engineer, who escaped injury.

In accordance with normal protocol, the prisoners were handcuffed to each other and were not wearing seat belts in the school bus-like vehicle. Their legs were not shackled.

In addition to the eight inmates who died, the four others were seriously injured. The sole surviving corrections officer also sustained severe injuries in the crash.

Fog and Icy Road Conditions to Blame for Fatal Auto Accident

Police suspect icy roads and heavy fog were responsible for the
accident. The National Weather Service had forecast freezing light rain
and 31 degree temperatures around the time of the deadly crash. Adding
to the poor driving conditions, the weather bureau reported that fog
limited visibility to three miles. Early reports indicate that the van
likely hit an ice patch on the overpass. Investigators point out that
bridges and overpasses are typically the first to freeze.

Both train and highway traffic were interrupted so that
inspectors could ensure the tracks were safe and finish the accident
investigation.

Black Ice is a Serious Roadway Danger in Texas

Dangerous winter driving conditions are not just a concern of our northern neighbors. Texans can experience black ice
when temperatures fall to 32 degrees and below. Precipitation turns to
ice immediately upon hitting the pavement. These slippery ice patches
blend in with the road, making them very difficult to see and avoid
until it is too late.

If you were involved in an accident on icy roadways, Berenson Law Firm may be able to assist you in recovering compensation from your insurance company
or other driver;s, if another vehicle was involved. Call us toll free at
888-801-8585 or in Dallas-Fort Worth at 817-885-8000 to schedule a free
consultation.

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